The United States Congress gave its blessing for the US Coast Guard to transfer a second ship to the Philippine Navy on February 10. This approval is in keeping with the increased emphasis the United States is placing on the Asia-Pacific region.
Most US-Philippine cooperative efforts have in the recent past been primarily focused on fighting terrorists. Now, the US appears to be embarking on a campaign to strengthen the Philippine Navy’s long neglected warfighting capabilities.
A spokesman for the US State Department has publicly commented that every effort will be made to deliver the ship as fully equipped as possible.
One warship was delivered to the Philippines back in May 2011 as authorized by the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951. Delivery of a second ship is just one of many defense related issues being negotiated between the two nations. The US Navy has regularly conducted port visits, refueling stops, and large-scale training exercises with Philippine forces. US Marine forces have engaged in multiple exercises in the island nation for several years past.
The Philippines has encountered some tense disputes with China regarding sovereignty over areas of the South China Seain recent months as have other nations. All or portions of this region are simultaneously claimed by Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, and China as well as the Philippines.
The United States has repeatedly stated that it will not be placed in a position of determining if these claims are valid or not and has long advocated negotiation as the only practical means of resolving the conflicting claims. However, the US has also made it clear that it will exercise whatever means are required to satisfy the terms of the Mutual Defense Treaty.
Official statements continue to deny that the United States has any plans or intentions of reintroducing a permanent military presence into the Philippines in the foreseeable future. The US closed all of its major military installations in the islands as demanded by the Philippine Senate in 1991 and there remains strong opposition to any permanent US presence among the general Philippine population.