Bipartisan Bill Would Give the Philippines $2.5 Billion in Military Aid

The legislation would give Manila $500 million per year through 2029

On Wednesday, Senators Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced a bill that would give the Philippines $2.5 billion in military aid over five years as the US is boosting military ties with Manila as part of its strategy against China in the region.

The legislation would give Manila $500 million over five years through to the 2029 fiscal year. The aid would be in the form of Foreign Military Financing (FMF), a State Department program that gives foreign governments money to purchase US weapons.

The Philippines is already the largest recipient of US military aid in the Asia Pacific. From 2015 to the end of 2021, Manila received $1.14 billion in military assistance from the US, including $475 million in FMF.

Hagery and Kaine introduced the bill on the eve of the first-ever trilateral summit between the leaders of the US, Japan, and the Philippines, which President Biden is hosting in Washington. The three nations are expected to announce new forms of cooperation, including joint patrols in the South China Sea, where tensions are soaring between the Philippines and China.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has taken a much harder line against China’s claims to the South China Sea than his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, who was much more friendly and diplomatic toward Beijing. The US has emboldened Marcos with new military support, and there has been a spike in confrontations between Chinese and Philippine vessels near disputed rocks and reefs.

Whenever there is an incident, the US reminds China that the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty applies to attacks on Philippine vessels in the South China Sea, a commitment the US formalized when Washington and Manila issued new guidelines for the treaty last year.

The commitment means the US is threatening to intervene if the maritime dispute turns into a shooting war, making the South China Sea a potential flashpoint for a war between the US and China. Tensions show no sign of easing as the US and its allies in the region continue to increase military activity in the waters, and China shows no interest in backing down.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.