Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel met with top Filipino officials Thursday, including President Benigno Aquino, to discuss expanding the U.S. military’s presence in the Philippines. The Obama administration has been negotiating a deal to allow U.S. forces to store equipment and supplies and to deploy, on a temporary basis, ships, planes and troops at several locations in the region. Filipino protesters condemned the U.S. military presence.
Fidel Fidabier, Movement for National Democracy: “Those troops are not welcome here. They are birds of prey. His arrival here signifies that the eagle has landed. The birds of prey have come, and it could mean another war, death and abuse.”
According to local Filipino officials, the United States has been attempting to secure the use of an old airport to use as a drone base. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the United States is not seeking to build permanent bases in the Philippines which was a U.S. colony from 1898 to 1946.
Chuck Hagel, U.S. Secretary of Defense: “The United States does not seek permanent bases in the Philippines. That would represent a return to an outdated Cold War mentality. Instead, we are using a new model of military-to-military cooperation, befitting two great allies and friends, and looking to increase our rotational presence here, as we have done recently in Singapore and Australia.”
Hagel’s visit to the Philippines comes just days after at least 60,000 people rallied in Manila in the largest protest ever against the Aquino government over government corruption.