Storm showed we need US–Del Rosario | Inquirer News

Storm showed we need US–Del Rosario

By: - Reporter / @TarraINQ
/ 04:35 AM November 26, 2013

US Marines unload relief items from a cargo plane at the Tacloban airport on Thursday. President Aquino was under growing pressure to speed up the distribution of food, water and medicine to desperate survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda.” INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The extensive role that the United States military has taken in disaster response operations in eastern Visayas has underscored the need for a greater presence of American troops in the country, Philippine and US officials said on Monday.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the US military’s deep involvement in humanitarian operations in the typhoon-ravaged areas had illustrated why the country needed to grant the United States greater access to the country, especially during times of disaster.


“I think this demonstrates the need for this framework agreement we’re working out with the US, because it accentuates the purposes of the framework [one of] which is to make humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and response a very major aspect of the agreement,” Del Rosario said.


Del Rosario made the statement when asked how the level of US participation in current disaster response operations could impact negotiations on the Increased Rotational Presence (IRP) of American troops here, which was started earlier this year as the Philippines and the US seek to strengthen defense ties.

The two countries agreed to start talks on the IRP amid the US defense pivot to the Asia-Pacific and the Philippines’ efforts to boost its external defense capabilities due to regional security concerns, particularly its maritime dispute with US rival China.

US congressmen


Del Rosario spoke during a joint press conference with a three-member delegation from the US House of Representatives that flew in to see US disaster response at work in Tacloban City, among the places hardest hit by Supertyphoon Yolanda’s devastating landfall on Nov. 8.

The US was among the first countries to deploy military personnel and assets to the Philippines in the early part of the relief effort, sending an aircraft carrier, several warships and air assets to Eastern Visayas to bring much-needed aid in hard-to-reach areas.


As of Nov. 22, US assistance for typhoon relief has totaled $51.857 million, with nearly a third—or $21.857 million in logistical support—coming from the US Department of Defense.

New Jersey Rep. Christopher Smith, who headed the congressional team, said the partnership which was further strengthened by ongoing typhoon response operations could only bode well for Philippine-US engagement.

“We know that negotiations are under way,” Smith told reporters. “I think, in a paradoxical way, the storm has brought all of us even closer. This is a jewel of a friendship (that) we must preserve at all costs. Every other, economic, [trade] and other ongoing negotiations will be given a positive boost as a direct result of all of these.”

Arizona Rep. Trent Franks, meanwhile, highlighted the need for both sides to continue nurturing the military partnership forged decades ago after the American colonization of the Philippines and the country’s subsequent liberation from Japanese forces.

“[There is] a long historical commitment between our military in America and the military in the Philippines, and we are deeply committed… to try everything that we can to solidify that more and more,” Franks said.

“We’ve had a few hiccups related to a few bases … but I think it’s vitally important for us to sit closely together to take every opportunity we have, including this one, to try and bring our military efforts closer together because we certainly not only have great common potential opponents to deal with, but we have a great commitment to… (move) forward with peace efforts,” he said.

The “hiccups” were an apparent reference to the Philippine Senate’s decision to kick out American bases from the Philippines in 1992.

Military cooperation between the two countries has, however, flourished in recent years, with joint military drills in areas of anti-terrorism and disaster response.

Originally posted: 2:54 pm | Monday, November 25th, 2013


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TAGS: DFA, News, Relief work, US military

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