Philippines Sign-off on Australian Troops
Image Credit: ISAF Media (Flickr)

Philippines Sign-off on Australian Troops


At first glance Australia and The Philippines are distant neighbors with similar trade dominated interests in the Pacific but their relationship could hardly be described as close. Nevertheless they both stand as long-term allies of the United States and that carries its own responsibilities.

Earlier this week, The Philippines senate, amid heightened territorial conflicts with China, ratified an accord after four years of considerations that would allow Australian soldiers to train with the Filipino military inside the country.

Supporters say the agreement will bolster defense in The Philippines which has struggled against a show of military muscle by China around the resource-rich disputed islands in the seas and international shipping lanes which divide The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and China.

It’s a sensitive issue.

The Philippines constitution forbids foreign troops from basing themselves permanently inside the country. Visits must be ratified by the senate which struck a similar deal with U.S. forces who have been in-country for a decade battling Islamic al-Qaeda-linked militants.

As a former American colony, The Philippines’ relationship with Washington is on a different level than with Canberra and approval of the accord is purely symptomatic of the escalating tensions involving the Spratly Islands.

That chain of remote islands sits largely within the 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the country’s southwest coast and are geographically a part of The Philippine archipelago.

Senator Eduardo Angara perhaps best summed up the mood saying his country required a “network of protective friends” amid threats from China which he described as “a very powerful country that already extends its claims close to the doorstep of our country.”

The accord was also signed-off on as Vietnam and The Philippines tackled China over the Paracel Islands, further to the north of the Spratlys where China has announced plans to garrison troops in Sansha, a move that Vietnam says violates international law.

U.S. Senator John McCain has weighed in describing the deployment as “unnecessarily provocative” and an action that is “disappointing and not befitting a responsible great power.”

For the Australians, the accord will not automatically lock their troops onto the front lines if heightened tensions threaten to escalate into a conflict, a scenario that no one in Southeast Asia, the U.S. or Australia wants to see.

The accord also allows Australian forces to train Filipinos in the management of natural disasters and terrorism, and was initially drafted when the War on Terror in Southeast Asia was nearer its peak.

December 4, 2012 at 21:19

Chan is SUCH an ENGLISH name..hmm..maybe not, and in regard of your irrational rant I am sure not, hmmm ..hmmm , maybe a CHINESE name…funny that!!!!!!!!!!!!!! hahahahahaha…you would be surprised by what Chinese people living in MY country, tell me about Chinese people living in CHINA, they say,and this is a direct quote, "Don't trust them Ian, they are CHINESE!" and that is from a Chinese person living in MY country who consider themselves ONE of us and we consider every one who has came from some where else to live here as ONE of us. I was in hospital here recently, the anaethist assisant was a Chinese lady, we had a conversation, she said, "in OUR beautiful country, " meaning HERE..I cried, because she was right, it is human here, its is decent, it is FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE and it is NOT the USA!

December 4, 2012 at 21:12

I am not sure WHAT the Philippines is doing for Australia…perhaps you do about sharing it with us then? 20 Million Australians, 100 million Philippino's 320 Million United Statesians and 1.4 BILLION Chinese.  How about growing a capacity to think clearly?

December 4, 2012 at 21:10

YOU IDIOT, if Australians die defending the Philippines from an invader that is o k is it? But if they succumb to greater number s of the enemy and still die but have to retreat that is not ok? Do you have a brain cell? IT IS NOT
PHILIPPINO's defending Australia, I am not sure if you may have missed that bit?????????? How about a reply on that?

August 22, 2012 at 21:37

Hell Yeah,
I rocked that one. Oh, come on, you understand it.
We who will walk together, will live together.

Major Lowen Gil Marquez, Phil Army
August 6, 2012 at 23:30

The military exercise between the Philippines and australian armed forces is a sign of felowship, camaraderie and networking relationship to train both forces on search and rescue, disaster relief, counter terroirsm which is the responsibility of everynation to handle it for the benefit of the world peace.
 This Balikatan exercise like in the US armed Forces will have its own version to Australian military, will have also a benefit to both countries for the defense of their nation at any terms that a conflict arise perpetrated by the communist dictatorship, this exercise will gave a better relationship to two nations as an alies of the USA and under the umbrela of the United Nation that may help also the Philippines in protecting the Scarborough shoal and Spratley island at the Western Philippine Sea which is violently and illegally intruded by the Chinese communist military dictatorship government..

Errol T
August 3, 2012 at 08:42

Sigh.. The photo you showed shows maturing rice stalks. The field the Aussie is walking on is dry, and yet the plants are still young. As an Asian, you of all people should know that young rice shoots need standing water to grow and thrive. You only drain the water when the harvest is approaching. Unless China was able to develop rice varieties that actually grow on dry land? If so, China should announce it to the world.

Errol T
August 3, 2012 at 08:37

Meh. It's a job at least.

Errol T
August 3, 2012 at 08:35

Coz the trade and the aid come with a slap-in-the-face imperialism, that's why. Beijing's demands are so outrageous and so condescending that it's hard to swallow. A poor nation can't be choosy, but sure as hell it can feel resentment.

August 1, 2012 at 23:48

>>"China is in no position to lead the world…" (vic)
I admire your (false) humility. So, the wannabe "Godfather of the SCS" (according to your own words) can not lead the world?
Please check these:
- China has become the first CO2 polluter
- China was the first to conduct anti-satellite destruction in outer space
- China is the first in death penalty executions.
- China is the first in forced abortion.
- China has one of the highest Gini index.
- China has the largest fishing fleet (and is in the first league of over fishing countries).
May I add that China has become the first country in duplicity?

August 1, 2012 at 17:31

Check these facts with your scholars:
-China didn't say anything about its intention when it "published" the "nine dotted line" in 1947.
- It didn't mention the "dotted line" when it protested the San Francisco peace Treaty in 1952.
- It didn't say anything about the "dotted line" when it published its "territorial waters" declaration in 1958.
- It didn't mention the "dotted line" in its reservation when it ratifies UNCLOS in 1996.
- It didn't say anything about the meaning of the "dotted line" when it sent its verbal note to UNCLOS in 2009.
- The famous line doesn't have an official name, official coordinates.
A sovereignty claim can not be based on increasing capability, in a rule-of-law world.
An expansionist imperialistic policy indeed follows war readiness.

Errol T
August 1, 2012 at 14:24

Easier said than done. Giving autonomy to the whole of Mindanao won't be as good as you think it is. For starters, parts of western Mindanao are already autonomous. Check the cash flow. The national government poured billions of pesos into the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) but most got pocketed by local clan lords. Case in point is the Ampatuan clan. In the previous administration they were the overlords of ARMM. See what happened. They got drunk with power and wealth and actually had the nerve to massacre civilians, especially media personnel. Autonomy isn't the solution. What it boils down to is choosing the lesser of evils. And don't think ARMM is a money-maker either. Agriculture remains the primary source of income in ARMM and the biggest employer is the local government units. How about the CPP-NPA? They fight for communism. Even Beijing no longer follows pure communism. Any ideas how to handle that one?

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