DND chief clarifies: PH not constructing air, naval bases in Subic

Will only be giving greater access to US, other countries


Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Thursday clarified a news report that said that the Philippine military was planning to build new air and naval bases in Subic Bay that can be utilized by American forces.

He instead said that the Philippines was looking to give the United States and Japan greater access to its military bases, as it seeks to counter what it perceives as a rising security threat from China.

The government is initially drafting a plan that would allow US forces to spend more time on Filipino bases, something that could also be offered to Japan’s military later, Gazmin said.

“If and when there is agreement on the access, then there will be equipment coming in from the (United) States,” Gazmin told a joint news conference in Manila after meeting with visiting Japan Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera.

“Now as far as Japan is concerned, we do welcome other countries — particularly Japan since Japan is a strategic partner — in accordance with our existing protocols.”

A wire report quoted senior officials from the Philippine Navy as saying that the plans of building air and naval bases at Subic Bay could be used by American forces “to counter China’s creeping presence in the disputed South China Sea.”

The report added that the Navy has yet to formally present its P10 billion-base development plan to President Benigno Aquino III.

Subic Bay was once a United States military base for nearly a century until 1992, when the Philippine Senate voted 12-11 to reject a new bases treaty with the US. A ratification of the Visiting Forces Agreement in 1999 paved the way for large-scale joint military exercises such as “Balikatan” and Carat (Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training), among others, between Philippine and US troops.

This also allowed increased presence of US vessels that visit the country as it rebalances its military presence in the Asia Pacific.

Meanwhile, militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan slammed the report on plans of building new US bases, saying that the US is only using the territorial disputes with China to justify its presence here.

“The dispute with China cannot be used as a basis for having de facto US bases in Subic or any part of the country. The US will not engage China in a head on military conflict right now. The US is only using the territorial dispute to justify its presence here. Make no mistake, the US is not about to choose us over China should the dispute intensify. US military presence here is in service of US imperialist interests and not our national interests. Those two are not identical,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of National Defense, and the commander-in-chief Benigno Aquino III should now disclose to the public the truth about the revival of military bases in Subic. There have been persistent reports that plans are underway to once again allow the stationing of US ships and planes in the area, even if this runs counter to national sovereignty and violates the Constitution,” he added. With a report from Agence France-Presse

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • NoWorryBHappy

    Make no mistake, the US is not about to choose us over China should the dispute intensify.
    True. And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has echoed this over and over again.
    We are now in the 21st century.
    Times have changed. The cold war ended decades ago.
    And America is ADAPTING to these changes. And so MUST we.
    China has become history’s most successful capitalist society and is now threatening to unseat America. If America can profit with tens of billions of dollars from a capitalist China, why can’t we ? The Philippines, too, MUST ADAPT to these changes. We cannot forever hide under America’s skirt. Look at Vietnam and Malaysia. They don’t take the side of either America or China. If we are to win the the respect of our Asian neighbors, we must take an independent path.

    • rosieo

      Be happy with you.

    • Utad Itup

      Most definitely that China will never consider any neighbor’s welfare over its greed.

  • superpilipinas

    …but we must define the scope and limits of “greater access”…..

    baka naman dumami nanaman ang protitution bars, gay bars, at drug dens, around the bases?!

    baka naman makakabalita nanaman ng ni-rape na pinay or binugbog na pinoy and then yung perpetrator covered by immunity?!

    • tlb6432

      part of the price, the social ills that surrounds the type of environment.. the local government has to be prepared for it and can pro-actively and re-actively perform its functions ensuring everyone benefits economically (bottom line) .. the local police can always work in tandem with the U.S. Military Police for patrols in the red district for both people’s safety and its soldiers in R&R…

  • superpilipinas

    Yup. Give access……and require access also.

  • esquireltd

    ano nanaman itong pinagsasabi ni reyes! wala naman solution na sinabi tungkol sa ginagawa ng china sa west Phil. sea. puro lang salita, wala naman gawa…hello!!!

  • Miguel Casador

    just remember, the US had to rebuild Germany after bombing the hell out of it and had to give Japan billions of dollars after dropping the nukes in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. now look at where they are – Germany is the most successful European country and Japan is the most modern Asian country (aside from another US ally South Korea).

    the reason the philippines didnt become a superpower like Japan or Germany is because instead of leveraging the US into becoming a regional superpower, the philippines chose to rely on them for everything from airlift to sea capabilities. instead of using the US (while they still had bases there) for training, procurement of military hardware, logistics, technology, they relied for the US to defend them. now that the US has really no reason to stick around in the philippines, you have all these senators, congressmen and public figures begging for the US to supply hardware in the conflict with China. you have no collateral to convince the US to actually give you any help. couple that with the fact that the US economy is in the toilet, opening a base and costing the US a few billion dollars to operate it, that’s such a far out wish..

    • NoWorryBHappy

      You got it CORRECTLY, buddy. I agree. Now, what do we do ?
      Not too late and it is time the Philippines took an INDEPENDENT path.
      America has been winning tens of billions of dollars in business deals behind the scenes in China. Shouldn’t the Philippines do the same ? Why not ? Our Asian neighbors are doing the same thing. Japan, South Korea, Indonesia. But the Philippines is STUCK with the mindset that China is evil. We have to free ourselves from these colonial ideas. China is a part of ASIA. Do we really think China will fry Asia in a nuclear holocaust ? What a foolish idea. Communist ?
      Duh! China has perfected the art of capitalism that even America is stunned at how they have progressed.

      • tlb6432

        do u really think the Pinoys will trust the Chinese? it’s next to impossible..

      • Utad Itup

        Like Spain, U.S. colonized us before yet they pulled out and never held a single Island of ours with them.
        Now China claims Panatag Shoal, Spratleys etc. , so now you talk about Philippines being independent, being Asian, being neighbors, being free of colonial ideas, blah blah blah when you, china are effectively colonizing when claiming territories of other neighbors across Asia?? (Vietnam, Japan, India, Korea etc)

        You must have sold your I.Q. for a bargain somewhere. Buy it back, you’ll need it.

    • socali

      This is so true.

    • Guest

      US has no reason of being in the PHL. US has strategic reason to be in the region. You guess.

  • Garaybul

    Filipino people are all for US military bases to reopen in the Philippines. Mr. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, it has been a year since the disputing EEZ border started; Have you done anything for our defense yet.

  • CyberPinoy

    Bakit ba ang media natin nirereport ang mga bagay na posibleng makakasama sa national security. Walang ethics itong media na pag sensitive ang issue wag na sanang isiwalat sa buong mundo, tulad ng matters of National Security. Common sense lang pag usaping pang national security it is better to keep it secret, the media is doing more harm than good. Ang pagawa ng Pinas ng bases kahit saan ay hindi na dapat isinisiwalat, mas makakasama kung ito ay ibubulgar ! Pwede ba mag isip naman kayo at iuna ang inyong bansa bago ang lahat !!!

  • tlb6432

    Bayan Muna, tumahimik muna.. ayaw naman ng Pinoy sa mga komunista (for various reasons)and also we’re historically close with the U.S. …maybe this time, we have learned the lessons and fully take advantage of this opportunity for better-equipped, professional military as well the economic benefits that goes with it.. there maybe social issues, but then again, from lessons learned, the national and local governments should also take that into account..

  • JK1000

    The AFP should invite Israeli military advisers to help us study and upgrade our military defense capability. Israel has one of the best military in the world, with the right price Israel could sell us some of their excess fighter planes. France and Italy are also willing to give us access to their military hardwares if the price is right.

    • koolkid_inthehouse

      Philippines need the DOME OF STEEL from Israel.
      Who’s scared of knock off weapons of communist China.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks




latest videos