From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 2): Expanded US access to Subic ‘base’ eyed
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines—Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) representatives are to meet with Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) officials to discuss expanded access by American troops at the former US Navy base here, an SBMA official said.
Zharrex Santos, manager of SBMA’s airport department, said on Wednesday there were plans to use portions of the airport here in connection with the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) but “no definite details” had been agreed upon yet.
The Subic airport has been serving as a jumpoff point for US troops participating in military exercises, he said.
Santos said the arrival of the latest batch of American troops in the free port was covered by the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), not by the Edca.
About 100 American soldiers landed in Subic on April 23 to take part in the exercises.
“Some of them were deployed somewhere in the country and might stay for two weeks, while others stayed in the airport area to establish work stations,” Santos said.
The US Navy built the airport during the Korean War in the 1950s. It was rehabilitated in 1992 after the US Navy left Subic Naval Base.
SBMA Chair Roberto Garcia said earlier that his agency, which manages the free port, supported the new agreement on the military’s use of sections of the free port “as this would strengthen national security.”
He said the new agreement had become necessary because of incidents in the West Philippine Sea, especially in Scarborough Shoal, where Filipino fishermen had been barred by Chinese Coast Guard vessels.
Garcia said the Subic Bay International Airport was being readied to accommodate a squadron of combat planes of the Philippine Air Force.
The squadron will be stationed at the former Federal Express terminal, he said.
Subic Bay also serves as the home port of the frigates BRP Alcaraz and the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, the newest additions to the Philippine Navy fleet, Garcia said.
This month, Philippine and US soldiers will hold the annual Balikatan military exercises in various places in the country.
The exercises, scheduled for May 5-16, will focus on maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, according to the AFP.
The activity will be held in the respective municipal gymnasiums of Alabel, Malungon, Malapatan, Glan, Maasim, Maitum and Kiamba within this month of May.
Speakers coming from both the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine Government will be invited.
Topics will include the history of the Bangsamoro struggle for self-determination, the GPH-MILF Peace Process with focus on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
The audiences will also understand how the Ministerial Form of government will run through an Overview of the Bangsamoro Government.
Speaker from the government side will also discuss the role of the Central Government in the establishment of the Bangsamoro Government which is hoped to be realized from 2015-2016 after the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be ratified and accepted by the people through a plebiscite.
The resource person from the MILF is expected to discuss Islamic Finance and the development of Halal industry and how it will help in the economic upliftment of the Bangsamoro in the province.
The organizers of the activity are comprised of the Provincial Government of Sarangani, Department of Interior and Local Government Sarangani Provincial Office, and SPECTRUM, an alliance of development organizations operating in Sarangani Province.
Target audiences will include barangay and municipal officials and sectoral leaders from the grassroot communities.