The Obama Administration is in the process of finalizing an agreement allowing an increased deployment of US troops and weapons into the Philippines, aiming to increase military ties with the former US-occupied territory.
The deal aims to avoid the more contentious issues of establishing permanent US bases in the Philippines, and those familiar with the talks say that the goal is to have more US troops on the Philippines’ own bases, avoiding directly contending with the memory of an ugly occupation and the bloody crackdowns that followed.
The US has troops rotated into the Philippines’ bases regularly already, and the deal is likely to take the form of a revision in that schedule, allowing more troops to be “rotated” into the nation.
The pretext for this will be the putative military “threat” posed by China. Both the Philippines and China have disputed claims over islands in the South China Sea, and the Philippines government has sought increased military deployment envisioning an eventual conflict over the unoccupied islands, not so much for the islands themselves but for the oil believes to be offshore.