Bishop fears return of US bases to Philippines

By agency reporter
January 15, 2011

The United States is working on re-establishing its military bases in the Philippines, a Filipino bishop said yesterday (14 January 2011).

“I have an apprehension that the United States military bases will return,” said Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of the diocese of Marbel in southern Philippines.

“You know why? Everything is there in General Santos City. They have a nice airport – 3.2 km entry point and 400 hectares of land area – it would take in the biggest plane,” the bishop told Church-run Radio Veritas 846 in an interview.

“We have all the food, no floods, no typhoons; we have 100 global corporations here. And we’re relatively peaceful and close to China,” he said.

“So we have the airport, seaport, a building in Saranggani highlands complete with satellite antenna. Everything is set except for our Constitution (which prohibits a foreign country from establishing a military base in the country),” he added.

He said the Philippine government must be careful in dealing with the US, especially now that the issue of amending the Constitution is being pushed in Congress.

The Philippine Senate voted in 1991 to expel US military bases from the country. The US was ready to contest the decision but the eruption of Mount Pinatubo which devastated the US military base in Zambales province forced them to decide to quickly move out.

However, the US maintains its military presence in the Philippines under the Visiting Forces Agreement signed during the administration of Joseph Estrada. Under the agreement, US and local soldiers conduct regular military exercises in many parts of the country.


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