Over the weekend, a U.S. destroyer arrived in the Philippines for a brief port call in a sign of the continuing military links between the two countries in spite of the rough patch under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (See: “Will Duterte End the US-Philippine Military Alliance?”).
Despite the sensationalist headlines that Duterte’s rhetoric on the United States have generated, so far the reality is that even though some aspects of U.S.-Philippine military ties have been downgraded, major agreements, exercises, and arrangements have remained in place (See: “Where Are US-Philippine Defense Relations Under Duterte?”).
On Saturday, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) arrived in Subic Bay for a brief port call in yet another indicator that most aspects of the bilateral alliance are proceeding as usual.
According to a statement by the U.S. military, the crew of the USS Fitzgerald, which is part of Destroyer Squadron 15 and part of the U.S. Seventh Fleet based at Yokosuka, Japan, used the stop to conduct minor repairs with the help of Philippine companies.
The statement said the port call “highlights the strong community and military connections between the Philippines and the United States.”
“The United States and Philippines continue to build upon their 70-year history of partnership through defense cooperation, port visits, and military training activities,” the statement added.
Though port calls are quite common between the United States and the Philippines, Fitzgerald also has additional significance within the context of the alliance since it hosted the signing of the Manila Declaration on November 16, 2011, between then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario during the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty.
As I have noted previously, of the U.S. Asian security alliances, the U.S.-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty was actually the first one to be forged and was signed on August 30, 1951, a few days before the one with Australia and New Zealand (ANZUS) was inked on September 1, 1951 (New Zealand was suspended in 1986) (See: “Oldest US Ally in Asia: Thailand or the Philippines?”).