Philippines–United States relations
|Filipino Embassy, Washington, D.C.||United States Embassy, Manila|
Philippines – United States relations (Filipino: Ugnayang Pilipinas at Estados Unidos) are bilateral relations between the United States of America and its former colony the Republic of the Philippines. Relations between the United States and the Philippines are strong, historically close and extremely friendly and has also been described as a Special Relationship. The United States is undeniably the Philippines' closest ally in the world, one of United States' oldest Asian partners and a close strategic major non-NATO ally. The United States has consistently been one of the Filipinos' favorite nations in the world, with 90% of Filipinos viewing the U.S. and 91% viewing Americans favorably in 2002, 90% of Filipinos viewing U.S. influence positively in 2011, 85% of Filipinos viewing the U.S. and Americans favorably in 2013 and 92% of Filipinos viewing the U.S. favorably and 89% having confidence in United States president, Barack Obama in 2014, making the Philippines the most pro-American country in the world. 
This article discusses Philippine-American relations after Philippine independence from the United States in 1946. For the period prior to that see the history of the Philippines during American colonial rule (1898-1946).
|Area||300,000 km2 (115,831 sq mi)||9,826,630 km2 (3,794,066 sq mi)|
|Population Density||308.0/km2 (797.2/sq mi)||31/km2 (80/sq mi)|
|Largest City||Quezon City – 2,761,720 (11,855,975 Metro)||New York City – 8,363,710 (19,006,798 Metro)|
|Government||Unitary presidential constitutional republic||Federal presidential constitutional republic|
|First Leader||Emilio Aguinaldo||George Washington|
|Current Leader||Benigno Aquino III||Barack Obama|
|Official languages||Filipino and English||None at federal level (English de facto)|
|Official National Anthem||Lupang Hinirang (Chosen Land)||The Star Spangled Banner|
|GDP (PPP)||$471.254 billion ($4,636 per capita)||$16.724 trillion ($52,839 per capita)|
|GDP (nominal)||$278.260 billion ($2,737 per capita)||$16.724 trillion ($52,839 per capita)|
|Military expenditures||$1.5 billion (FY 2013)||$682.0 billion (FY 2013)|
Bases era (1947-91)
Pursuant to the 1947 Military Bases Agreement, the United States maintained and operated major facilities at Clark Air Base until November 1991, and at Subic Bay Naval Complex and several small subsidiary installations in the Philippines until November 1992. In July 1991, negotiators from the two countries reached agreement on a draft treaty providing for the clean-up and turn over of Clark to the Philippine government in 1992, and for the lease of Subic Bay Naval Base by the U.S. for ten years. By 1991, operations at Clark had already been scaled back because of the end of the Cold War, with the last combat aircraft leaving in 1990, before the base was heavily damaged by the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo.
On September 16, 1991, the Philippine Senate rejected the bases treaty by a slim margin, and despite further efforts to salvage the situation, the two sides could not reach an agreement. As a result, the Philippine Government informed the U.S. on December 6, 1991, that it would have one year to complete withdrawal. That withdrawal went smoothly and was completed ahead of schedule, with the last U.S. forces departing on November 24, 1992. On departure, the U.S. Government turned over assets worth more than $1.3 billion to the Philippines, including an airport and ship-repair facility. Agencies formed by the Philippine Government have converted the former military bases for civilian commercial use, with Subic Bay serving as a flagship for that effort.
Visiting Forces Agreement
The post-U.S. bases era has seen U.S.-Philippine relations improved and broadened, with a prominent focus on economic and commercial ties while maintaining the importance of the security dimension. U.S. investment continues to play an important role in the Philippine economy, while a strong security relationship rests on the 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT). In February 1998, U.S. and Philippine negotiators concluded the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), paving the way for increased military cooperation under the MDT. The agreement was approved by the Philippine Senate in May 1999 and entered into force on June 1, 1999. Under the VFA, the U.S. has conducted ship visits to Philippine ports and has resumed large combined military exercises with Philippine forces. Key events in the bilateral relationship include the July 4, 1996 declaration by President Ramos of Philippine-American Friendship Day in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Philippine independence. Ramos visited the U.S. in April 1998, and then-President Estrada visited in July 2000. President Arroyo met with President Bush in an official working visit in November 2001 and made a state visit in Washington on May 19, 2003. President Bush made a state visit to the Philippines on October 18, 2003, during which he addressed a joint session of the Philippine Congress—the first American President to do so since Dwight D. Eisenhower. There are regular U.S. cabinet-level and congressional visits to the Philippines as well.
President Arroyo repeatedly stressed the close friendship between the Philippines and the U.S. and her desire to expand bilateral ties further. Both governments tried to revitalize and strengthen their partnership by working toward greater security, prosperity, and service to Filipinos and Americans alike. Inaugurated into office on the same day as President Bush, President Arroyo lent strong support to the Global War on Terrorism. In October 2003, the U.S. designated the Philippines as a Major Non-NATO Ally. That same month, the Philippines joined the select group of countries to have ratified all 12 UN counterterrorism conventions.
Annual military exercises
The annual Balikatan (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) bilateral military exercises contribute directly to the Philippine armed forces' efforts to root out Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists and bring development to formerly terrorist-plagued areas, notably Basilan and Jolo. They include not only combined military training but also civil-military affairs and humanitarian projects. The International Military Education and Training (IMET) program is the largest in the Pacific and the third-largest in the world, and a Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) was signed in November 2002. Similarly, law enforcement cooperation has reached new levels: U.S. and Philippine agencies have cooperated to bring charges against numerous terrorists, to implement the countries' extradition treaty, and to train thousands of Filipino law enforcement officers. There is a Senior Law Enforcement Advisor helping the Philippine National Police with its Transformation Program.
The U.S. works closely with the Philippines to reduce poverty and increase prosperity. The U.S. fully supports Philippine efforts to root out corruption, to open economic opportunity, and to invest in health and education. USAID programs support the 'Philippines' war on poverty as well as the government's reform agenda in critical areas, including anti-money laundering, rule of law, tax collection, and trade and investment. Other USAID programs have bolstered the government's efforts to heal divisions in Philippine society through a focus on conflict resolution, livelihood enhancement for former combatants, and economic development in Mindanao and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, among the poorest areas in the country. Meanwhile, important programs continue in modern family planning, infectious disease control, environmental protection, rural electrification, and provision of basic services—as well as PL 480 food aid programs and others, which together totaled $211.3 million. In 2006, the Millennium Challenge Corporation granted $21 million to the Philippines for a threshold program addressing corruption in revenue administration.
Nearly 400,000 Americans visit the Philippines each year. Providing government services to U.S. and other citizens, therefore, constitutes an important aspect of the bilateral relationship. Those services include veterans' affairs, social security, and consular operations. Benefits to Filipinos from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration totaled $297,389,415 in 2006. Many people-to-people programs exist between the U.S. and the Philippines, including Fulbright, International Visitors, and Aquino Fellowship exchange programs, as well as the U.S. Peace Corps.
Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement
In April 2014, a ten-year pact Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) was signed between the U.S. President Barack Obama and the Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, allowing United States to increase military presence in the Philippines.
Trade and investment
Two-way U.S. merchandise trade with the Philippines amounted to $17.3 billion in 2006 (U.S. Department of Commerce data). According to Philippine Government data, 16% of the Philippines' imports in 2006 came from the U.S., and about 18% of its exports were bound for America. The Philippines ranks as the 26th-largest export market and the 30th-largest supplier of the United States. Key exports to the U.S. are semiconductor devices and computer peripherals, automobile parts, electric machinery, textiles and garments, wheat and animal feeds, and coconut oil. In addition to other goods, the Philippines imports raw and semi-processed materials for the manufacture of semiconductors, electronics and electrical machinery, transport equipment, and cereals and cereal preparations.
The U.S. traditionally has been the Philippines' largest foreign investor, with about $6.6 billion in estimated investment as of end-2005 (U.S. Department of Commerce data). Since the late 1980s, the Philippines has committed itself to reforms that encourage foreign investment as a basis for economic development, subject to certain guidelines and restrictions in specified areas. Under President Ramos, the Philippines expanded reforms, opening the power generation and telecommunications sectors to foreign investment, as well as securing ratification of the Uruguay Round agreement and membership in the World Trade Organization. As noted earlier, President Arroyo's administration has generally continued such reforms despite opposition from vested interests and "nationalist" blocs. A major obstacle has been and will continue to be constitutional restrictions on, among others, foreign ownership of land and public utilities, which limits maximum ownership to 40%.
Over the last two decades, the relatively closed Philippine economy has been opened significantly by foreign exchange deregulation, foreign investment and banking liberalization, tariff and market barrier reduction, and foreign entry into the retail trade sector. The Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 opened opportunities for U.S. firms to participate in the power industry in the Philippines. Information and communications technologies, backroom operations such as call centers, and regional facilities or shared-service centers are likewise leading investment opportunities.
During the visit by President Benigno Aquino III to Washington DC, on July 7, 2012, the US-Philippine Society was launched. It is a non-profit independent organisation tasked for generating awareness about the Philippines in the US. The last board meeting was conducted by the society on January 24, 2013.
In its 2013 Special 301 Report, the Office of the United States Trade Representatives wrote "The United States looks to the Philippines to take important steps to address piracy over the internet, in particular with respect to notorious online markets". It is speculated that pressure from the United States contributed to the complaint filed by Philippine Association of the Record Industry against the torrent website KickassTorrents, resulting in its seizure by Philippine authorities on June 13, 2013.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt M. Campbell said in January 2011 that the United States will help boost the capacity of the Philippines to patrol their own waters, including the Spratly islands.
The 1951 mutual-defense treaty was reaffirmed with the November 2011 Manila Declaration. United States Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert suggested that LCS or surveillance aircraft may be deployed to the Philippines. And the Philippines is considering the proposal. These "rotational deployments" will help replace some of the American presence in the area that was given up when the permanent American bases in the Philippines were closed under President Bush.
In 2012 the Philippines and the United States conducted joint military exercises. As of 2012, a U.S. military contingent of 600, including Navy Seals and Seabees are stationed "indefinitely" in the Southern Philippines, in a declared non-combatant role to assist the Armed Forces of the Philippines in operations against the al-Quaida-linked Abu Sayyaf terrorist group primarily on the island of Basilan in western Mindanao and the Sulu islands, in particular Jolo, a long-time stronghold of Abu Sayyaf.
The Scarborough Shoal standoff with China and the ongoing Spratly islands dispute has caused the Philippines to consider stronger military ties with the United States. In 2012, a senior Philippine defense official said that as long as they have prior clearance from the Philippine government, American troops, warships and aircraft could once again use their former naval and air facilities of Subic Bay Naval Base and Clark Air Base. In 2013, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario clarified that, due to constitutional constraints, establishment of a US military facility could only be allowed if it would be under the control of the Philippine military. The deal will reportedly include shared access to Philippines military but not civilian facilities.
During a 2013 visit to the Philippines, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that the main security issues that the USA was working with the Philippines on were:
- Maritime domain awareness,
- building up the capacities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,
- and counter terrorism.
In April 2014, a ten-year pact (EDCA - Enhanced Defence Co-operation Agreement) was signed between the U.S. President Barack Obama and the Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, allowing United States to increase military presence in the Philippines.
The U.S. maintains an embassy in Manila and a consulate in Cebu. The American Business Center, which houses the Foreign Commercial Service and the Foreign Agricultural Service, is located in Makati City. The Philippine government maintains an embassy in Washington, D.C. as well as several consulates throughout the United States.
- Opinion of the United States - Philippines Pew Research Center
- Opinion of Americans - Philippines Pew Research Center
- Views of US Continue to Improve in 2011 BBC Country Rating Poll BBC
- Global Views of the United States
- SIPRI - Data by country
- SIPRI - Data by region/group
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- KickassTorrents Domain Seized After Music Industry Complaint | TorrentFreak
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