From 1946 to 1991 the Philippines was the recipient of military assistance from the United States. In return the US had maintained large bases in the Philippines serving as America’s forward defense in the Pacific Region. This was formalized in the signing of the RP-US Military Bases Agreement of 1947 just was the Cold War had started.

In 1951, the Philippines and the United States also signed the RP-US Defense Treaty where the latter would defend the former in case of an external attack.

For many decades, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) depended mostly on American support for the equipage of the AFP from handguns to military aircraft and warships. In fact the RP-US relationship was the longest in any Southeast Asian country. When the Korean War broke out in 1950 the Philippines was one of the first countries to send combat battalions to Korea in 1950 until the conflict ended three years later.

Fifteen years later the Philippines repeated that gesture on request of the United States when it sent a civic action team to South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. That’s how close the Philippines as a faithful ally of the US.

While the Philippines did not have any combat troops in South Vietnam, the US extensively used its bases in the Philippines to conduct bombing runs in North Vietnam. US military aircraft stationed at Clark Air Base in Pampanga and Subic Naval Base, both in Central Luzon, and one more base in Mactan, Cebu in Central Philippines were among the major bases used by the US in waging their air war in Vietnam in the mid ‘60s up to 1975, the year when the US pulled out from Vietnam without succeeding in crushing the stubborn Vietcong guerilla fighters.

The Philippine archipelago is strategically situated in the vast Pacific Ocean on the east, the South China Sea on the west where a huge reserve oil deposit is believed to be underneath the disputed Spratly Islands. From the military aspect, the Philippines is a great country where it has virtually all the resources needed, including food, water and other minerals such as gold, silver, bronze, copper timber and others. It is also believed that a huge untapped oil reserve is found in the southern island of Mindanao, particularly the Surigao Strait also known as the Philippine Deep. Hydrocarbon in this area is reportedly the best.

For many years the US also enjoyed the so-called parity rights wherein the Americans explored and developed natural resources in the Philippines like any Filipino. This alone was a big disparity considering that the Filipinos did not have the same rights in the US Americans.

US military and economic assistance to the Philippines was at its highest from 1946 to 1991 when America had their bases on Philippine soil. During that period the Philippines received approximately eight billion dollars, a pittance, compared to other US allies got during that long period of time, and the huge benefits the US received in return such as guarding US interests in Asia.

From 1946 to 1982, the Philippines received security assistance from America amounting to $3.259 billion. Out of this amount, the AFP got $1.269 billion as military assistance, reimbursable foreign military sales financing funds from the combined programs of International Military Education and Training (IMET); Military Assistance Program (MAP); Excess Defense Articles (EDA; Foreign Military Sales (FMS); Cash Agreement and Direct and Guaranteed Credits from the US Department of Defense.

Then the Philippines called for the renegotiation of the RP-US Military Bases Agreement in 1982. The Philippines insisted that the US pay rentals for the bases. The Philippines got the concession when the Americans pumped in $500 million a year in bases rental from 1983 to 1991 when the US Bases ended its presence in the Philippines. But actually the last US troops departed from Philippine soil on November 24, 1992. It was a nostalgic departure as thousands of Filipino workers lost their jobs. The Philippine government had to bear the loss of US bases. Slowly but surely Clark and Subic were resurrected by making these two former US bases as economic zones.

Sometimes in 1983, the Philippines reportedly tried to get $1.5 billion in base rentals. The Americans reportedly countered for one billion dollars. But the negotiation was overtaken by the People-Power revolution in February 1986.

For the record, the US officially ended the MAP grant on September 30, 1981, ten years ahead when the Philippine Senate abrogated the RP-US Military Bases Agreement in 1991. Total MAP received by the Philippines amounted to $750,000. For 37 years from 1946 to 1983, the US Military Grant Aid to the Philippines was only $745.5 million.

Despite its so-called “close ties” with the US - the Philippines was not getting its worth that would have modernized the AFP. The big question is why? This question has to be asked because other countries allied with the US were getting more US military hardware, considering that the Philippines was the host of US bases for a long period of time until the accord was terminated by the Philippine Senate in 1991.

The RP-US Military Assistance Agreement was signed on March 21, 1947. The signatories were then President Manuel Roxas and US Ambassador to the Philippines McNutt. The agreement says in part: “…to obtain assistance in the training and development of its Armed Forces and in the procurement of equipment and supplies during the period immediately following the independence of the Philippines concerning military bases, signed 14 March 1947, and in view of the mutual interest of the two Governments in matters of common defense, the President of the United states has authorized the rendering of Military Assistance to the Republic of the Philippines towards establishing and maintaining national security and towards forming a basis for participation by that Government in such Defensive Military operations as the future may require…”

In another accord, the military and economic assistance agreement between the Philippines and the US was signed through the exchange of notes between then Foreign Affairs Secretary Carlos P. Garcia and US Ambassador Ferguson on April 27, 1955 in Manila.

The purpose of this agreement was the giving to the Philippines $9.5 million for the construction and improving of AFP facilities at Basa Air Base, Pampanga, home of the 7th Fighter Wing of the Philippine Air Force (PAF). This was actually one of the four exchanges of Notes between the Philippines and the US with a total amount of $29.41 million.

Included in the agreement was for the Philippines to start its Self-Reliance Defense Posture Program (SRDP). It was a noble project that the Philippines would greatly improve its self-reliance capability. The Philippines started modest experiments and production of small defense items but the most outstanding were the successful testing of the Philippines’ prototype light plane developed and designed by Col. George Aquino of the Philippine Air Force (PAF), and the surface-to-surface rocket.

Except for the engine the prototype plane was made of local materials. It was successfully test-flown in 1975 but for one reason or another, the project was shelved.

The Philippine-made surface-to-surface rocket developed by the Philippine Navy was also tested successfully in the Manila Bay, but it was not also pursued apparently due to lack of funding, because there were no takers from the private sector.

However, the Air Force silently pursued its own development of air-to-ground rocket. It was successfully tested in the late ‘70s. Since that time the PAF has been producing its own air-to-ground rockets, saving millions of dollars for the government.

To understand the development of Philippine-US relations from one of conflict to one of mutual respect, common global interests, and shared democratic ideals one must review the major factors contributing to the condition at present.

The Philippines is the second largest archipelago in the world second only to Indonesia. The Philippines has 7,107 islands with a total land area of 115,739 square miles, stretching over 1,000 miles from north to south and 700 miles from east to west.

Called “Pearl of the Orient,” the Philippines has a coastline of 14,400 miles which is twice as long as that of the United States. The historical period of the Philippines can be divided into seven distinct phases: the pre-Spanish time, Spanish era (1521-1898), American period (1898-1941), Japanese occupation (1941-1945), post-independence (1946-1971), Martial Law (1972-1986) and redeemed democracy (1986 up to the present).

The Filipinos had fought various wars, against Spain, America and Japan. As a sovereign country, the Philippines has its own military, the Armed Forces of the Philippines composed of Army, Navy, Air Force and for many years the Constabulary before the latter was converted into what is now the Philippine National Police.

Having been under the tutelage of the United States for 48 years from 1898 to 1946, the AFP has acquired the military organization, equipage, development, doctrine, training, and logistics system of that of the US. In short it is modeled upon the US military set-up.

At the outset in 1935 when the National Defense Act was created, there were 10,000 Army recruits that composed the sea, land and air forces combined into one. But in 1950 the Army, Navy, Air Force and Constabulary were separated. The AFP had undergone another face lifting when the Constabulary was separated from the AFP and made it into a separate unit that is now known as the Philippine National Police (PNP) in 1991.

American foreign policy relating to the Philippines to date, though there are no more military bases, is derived mainly from its global policy of enhancing continuous close association and cooperation with other countries, particularly the Third World that is essential for achieving US foreign objectives of strengthening democracy and respect for civil liberties, and complementing US defense posture.

Such cooperation can be achieved through the International Security and Development Cooperation Programs that are major US policy instruments. Focusing on the continuity of this relationship, the US has significantly supported the Philippines in economic and military assistance programs since the end of the Pacific War.

US policy objectives for the Philippines are summarized as follow: to preserve Philippine internal and external defense posture and assist in enhancing a self-sustained economic growth and general social modernization that will improve the quality of life of the Filipino people.

It has always been the policy of the US government to protect its interests in any part of the world. The Pacific region is an important area that S has to protect. Hence, its military presence is a must for any US administration. This is because the Pacific Rim is of US major strategic, political, and economic importance. The US has treaty relationships with Japan, Korea, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia and the Philippines.

Though there are no more US bases in the Philippines, it has a Defense Treaty of 1951 with the Philippines that is still in effect to this day.

With globalization, there is a growing economic and commercial interests for the US with the countries in this region. The geographic location of the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, which sit a stride strategic sea-lanes with petroleum both originating in and passing through these sea routes, are vital US interests. The former US Clark and Subic bases in the Philippines were part of the US worldwide forward defense system.

The 1991 US military withdrawal from the Philippines created a “power vacuum” and adverse economic and political effects on the former US colony. The Philippine was not really prepared in 1991 when the US bases agreement was terminated. The AFP was greatly affected, particularly its modernization program considering that the Philippine government was able to compensate for this great economic and security loss because the government was short of logistics.

The US virtually cut off all military assistance to the Philippines from 1991, except those that were on the pipeline. The Philippine military was in quandary as the government was constraint by budgetary shortfall. But to top it all the Philippines did not prepare to compensate for the withdrawal of the US bases.

In 1966, then President Ferdinand Marcos reduced the lease of the bases agreement from 99 to 25 years, with the treaty to expire on September 16, 1991. This infuriated the American government. The Philippines had to play for that costly Marcos’ decision. It could be surmised that it was the beginning of the downfall of Marcos from power. Rocked by political crisis in his long tenure as leader of the country, Marcos downfall became more evident when former Senator Benigno S. Aquino Jr. was assassinated on August 21, 1983.

Street rallies were held almost daily. Marcos called a snap election in 1986. Marcos was the victor but there were charges of cheating. Mrs. Corazon Aquino, widow of Sen. Aquino protested the polls. Marcos was overthrown in a people’s uprising.

But even when Aquino was declared the new president, the timetable for the withdrawal of the US bases from the Philippines had not changed. Five years later from 1986 when Mrs. Aquino assumed the presidency, the US bases in the Philippines were gone, booted out by the Philippine Senate in a historic landmark vote, 12-11 that changed the political and economic landscape of the country.

During the long debate in the Senate, Cory Aquino adopted a vague stance of keeping her option open when asked by the press whether she was for the retention of the bases or not. Then suddenly on the eleventh hour when there was strong signal that most of the senators would vote against the retention of the bases, President Aquino made a stand, campaigning for the bases to stay. But it was too late. The so-called Cory Magic failed to influence the Senate to retain the bases even for another ten years or so.

The rejection of the Philippine Senate for a new RP-US Bases Treaty was costly both economically and militarily. The US Bases played a great role on the Philippine economy, no question about that. Statistics show that during the US bases era, the Americans spent over $500 million a year in the country on salaries, the purchase of supplies and services, and other military and economic aid given to the Philippine government. One estimate claimed that the total amount of economic contribution amounted to as much as US$1 billion annually. The Americans employed 23,168 full-time workers, 22,834 contract workers, and 444 concessionaires for a total of 46,446 Filipinos hired in US bases in the country. These workers received salaries totaling $96 million annually. The US Information Service claimed that, “The U.S. facilities create a great deal of indirect employment by doing business with Philippine companies – over 900 had contracts with the bases in 1985….” The Bases seemed to be pumping in millions of U.S dollars into an impoverished economy. Yet these figures can be quite misleading. Direct Filipino employment on the U.S. bases only amounted to some 5% of the total 1.18 million Filipinos employed by the Philippine government at that time. It was calculated that the bases only actually employed less than 1% of the total Philippine “non-agriculture workforce.” These statistics make the U.S. claim that it was the largest employer in the country, apart from the Philippine government, appear rather weak. Furthermore, the Philippines’ Jose W. Diokno Foundation (named after a well known Filipino nationalist) makes the point that bases’ contribution to the Philippine economy was actually consumption of “commodity items” and not “capital investment”. “The bulk of base contribution were spent on labor – both legitimate labor and labor for entertainment purposes.

Thus Filipino men, women and Children were transformed into commodity items.” In effect, base contributions did not actually assist in development of the Philippine economy. Also, U.S. Economic assistance regularly demands that the Philippines purchase only U.S. goods, which forced the Philippines into buying often higher priced goods than could have been bought on the world marketplace.

Although some government officials argued that the economic benefits of the bases warranted their retention, others countered that more productive uses could be found for the bases after the U. S withdrawal. Private sector participation was first conceived as crucial to the program’s success.

When the U.S. Bases pulled out, there was economic dislocation as expected in North and Central Luzon. Not only did the withdrawal affect the economic life of tens of thousands of people who relied their income from theses bases. Compounding the hardship was the 1990 earthquake and 1992 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo that devastated many towns in Central Luzon.

About 42,000 people lost their jobs; not counting the estimated 79,000 additional jobs off base that depended on the US facility. Business slowed down. Revenues dropped from US$13.8 million in 1991 to $5.8 million in 1992, reaching a low of $2.4 million in 1993. Subic and its adjacent city, Olongapo, were at a standstill. About a third of the city’s population packed up and moved to other parts of the country. Severe depression swept the area. It was in this turbulent time
that the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) came into being by virtue of Republic Act No. 7227 signed by President Aquino on March 13, 1992. The aim of the BCDA was to accelerate the development of the base conversions. Today, the former naval base has become the country’s first Freeport, hosting more than 200 companies dealing in manufacturing, retail, warehousing, transshipment, recreation and tourism. More are coming. Next to Philippine companies, most of the investors are from Taiwan, followed by the US and Europe. In less than three years after the Americans left, Clark and Subic were transformed into economic zones during the administration of President Fidel V. Ramos. It demonstrated Filipino resiliency rising above a debilitating economic crises in succession - the bases pullout, the killer earthquake, the deadly Mount Pinatubo eruption and the rumbling of military rebels that turned into a nightmare – not once but nine times that almost toppled the Aquino government.

But there was some blessing though to the Filipino people. When the Americans pulled out, they left behind $6 billion superb infrastructure that the Philippine government utilized to the fullest. For one Clark has a huge airport built by the American. It was formerly the home of the 13th US Air Force.

In Subic, it has the Cubi Point and an excellent deep-water harbor, reliable power and communication facilities. Filipino workers in the area are skilled; they speak good English and are easy to train.

Clark Air Base, a sprawling 28,041-hectare prized property in the heart of central Luzon, was a major casualty of Mount Pinatubo. After the volcano erupted in 1991, a large part of the air base was covered with ash, roofs caved in and all the eye could see was a vast stretch of gleaming, silver-gray wasteland. The disaster hastened the departure of the US forces from America’s largest overseas air base. It definitely slowed down the transformation of Clark into a civilian enterprise. Today, the former Clark Air Base-renamed Clark Special Economic Zone rose from the ruins of Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption. The government has since rehabilitated the power plant and telecommunications facilities and cleared the runways. The Ramos government then offered incentives such as duty-free importation and waived local and national taxes. Local and foreign businesses have set up their firms with investments now reaching over to over $3 billion, and counting every year. Most of these are industrial and commercial ventures; the rest are aviation-related and tourism projects. Holiday Inn, guest cottages and a modern golf course that are attracting tourists. The Philippine government has also improved the Clark International Airport. There are close over 20,000 workers in Clark, almost equaling the 32,000 base workers before the US left.

All This great economic revival seems to have been downplayed by the political insecurity that the base withdrawals brought. The termination of the Military Base Agreement (MBA) devastated the bilateral security ties with the U.S. Throughout the MBA’s existence security ties have been linked to the terms of the treaty. As a result, the U.S. withdrawal forced the limelight on the Armed forces of the Philippines (AFP) and its capacity to protect the country from external as well as internal threats. This has become the most significant concern affecting the security ties between the two countries. From the inception of the MBA; the United States underwrote much of the security of the Philippines, clearly establishing a dependency relationship on defense. Indeed, the AFP is wanting in its external defense capability. Fortunately, for the Philippines it has no perceived external enemy as the Cold War had ended.

Be that as it may, the neglect in the external defense capability of the AFP has bred political repercussions. A fact-finding commission report showed that it was partly responsible for demoralization within the AFP and, indirectly, is one of the causes of the series of coup d’ etat that had taken place in the country from 1986 to 1989. This dependency on the U.S assistance has another aspect to it. Aside from external security, the Philippines have also relied on the United States for assistance in the development of the AFP’s internal capabilities. The government is facing threats from the communist, Moro rebels, Abu Sayyaf terror group and military rebels.

Most affected of the stoppage of US military assistance are the Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force, and to some extent the Philippine Army. The Philippines with 7,107 islands, the second largest archipelago in the world, the Philippine Navy has only 25 patrol ships, 20 transport and service vessels, and 80 small craft with an average of over 50 years in service to protect the country’s 1.29 million square kilometers of territorial waters and its 1.69 million square miles of exclusive economic zone (EEZ). It is the only naval force in the ASEAN region without any missile capability. Many of the Philippine Navy’s ships have limited patrol radius and are not even considered seaworthy. The termination of the MBA puts it on more uncertain footing since 28% of its operational requirements were within the bases compensation package. The Philippines Air Force (PAF) is in an even worse state, having relied on the United States for as much as 61% of its operational needs. The PAF retired its aging F-5A fighters from service in 2005 with no replacement, leaving the country with virtually no air defense. Modernization plans for the AFP are being held back by financial shortages. The AFP is trying to appropriate funds for a 10-year modernization program costing US$7 billion. However, the program was made on the premise that banked heavily on American military assistance when it was initiated in 1990. But when the bases withdrew these funds were reduced drastically.

The Philippines-U.S. security relationship remains in place because of the Mutual Defense Treaty signed in 1951. Under the Treaty, the Philippines is guaranteed US military intervention if any situation arose that affected the Philippine national security. During a 1992 Mutual Defense Meeting, Philippine and American military officials agreed that no radical change in the bilateral defense and security relationship would be made.

Despite this agreement the US commitment has come under some question with the emergence of the Philippine claim to the Spratlys.

The Spratly Islands is a generally uninhabited island chain covering 800,000 square kilometers of the South China Sea. It is believed to contain significant reserves of oil under its seabed, in addition to its rich marine resources, minerals and hydrocarbon deposits. The Philippines claims a total area of 93,000 square kilometers, which it collectively calls the Kalayaan (Freedom) Islands. The Spratlys are also claimed wholly or partly by Brunei, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Presently the dispute over the Spratlys has become the principal test of the MDT’s importance to the Philippine’s defense need.

The U.S., however, believes that the Spratlys and any conflict arising from it, falls outside the jurisdiction of the MDT. Morton Smith, then spokesperson of the U.S. Embassy to the Philippines, said that the Kalayaan Islands are excluded from the scope of the treaty because they were not part of the country’s territory when the MDT was signed. The Philippines had only raised its claim in 1987. The United States, however refuses to take the side on the issue, and does not recognize the claim of any country on the disputed islands.

Because the U.S. does not recognize the Philippine claim it is not obliged to come to its aid in the event of armed conflict in that area. The Philippines, however, believes that the United States is bound under the MDT to come to its defense in case of an attack on territory it claims in the South China Sea.

During a 1992 Senate hearing, Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Roberto Romulo stated that the United states was treaty-bound to support the Philippines in the event of an attack on Philippine – claimed territory into the South China Sea. The Spratly debate is still going on today. This casts some light on the relationship between the MBA and the MDT. Before the termination of the MBA, the U.S. military and naval presence provided the Philippines with the physical guarantee of the commitment embodied in the MDT. The U.S. pull out, however removed this physical evidence. At the same time, the weakened defense establishment of the Philippines made this commitment even more critical. As a result the Philippine government has sought to establish a new agreement that would bring back the U.S. Military presence. The current agreement (signed by President Ramos in 1998) is the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) allowing U.S. Military to conduct temporary joint exercises and training with the AFP. However, the VFA has been the topic of much controversy in current Philippine politics. In addition to the wide spread student protests, many militant nationalist groups have already warned that should the VFA be implemented all past peace negotiations with their groups are void. The future of Philippine-American Military relations’ remains to be seen, but the certainty that these relations are vital to Philippine security, has drawn the support of the past three Presidents, Aquino, Ramos and Estrada, and the incumbent, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The U.S. Military presence in the Philippines had had a profound impact on Philippine politics and economy. Economically, it was thought that the U.S. pull out would have devastating effects on the already impoverished economy. However, through the quick thinking and ingenuity of the Filipino economists and technocrats put in charge of the base conversion projects, the Philippine economy not only recovered from the initial economic crisis but also has experienced phenomenal growth. Economically, the removal of the U.S. Bases was a step in the right direction.

However, the same cannot be said about the impact the U.S. withdrawal has had on politics, especially on the issue of Philippine security. Even today, the
Philippine government is plagued with the problem of internal strife against various rebel groups dissatisfied with the current political situation that appears to only benefit the political elite.

The great economic growth has had minimal effect on the masses of Filipino poor who flock to these groups for redemption. Also as an offshoot, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is ill equipped, although it used to be one of the most modern military organization in the ‘50s and early ‘60s.

The Philippines, however, made some self-redemption of its “spat” with the US when it signed the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement a few years ago. Under the agreement the VFA that would allow the U.S. military to come to the country to conduct joint training with Filipino troops while keeping Philippine soil free of U.S. bases.

Economic Relations With the United State

The RP-US economic relations are governed by the Laurel-Langley Agreement, designed to facilitate the transition from a colonial relationship to one that is economically sovereign wherein both countries benefited from tariff preferences.

After its expiration, a discussion for a new agreement was attempted in 1974 and 1976. No new agreement was reached. Despite the absence of an agreement, economic relations remain close and advantageous to both countries with far reaching U.S. investment in the Philippines. The U.S. has remained the largest trading partner and number one foreign investment source to date. Philippine economic policy encourages foreign investments as a formulation for economic development in accordance with certain guidelines and restrictions set by the government in particular areas. The two traditional trading partners recognize each other’s importance as major markets.

For example in 1982 when the US had its bases in the Philippines, U.S.-RP economic relations were highlighted by the following activities: (1) resolution of bilateral economic issues, which resulted in the exchange of instruments of ratification for a tax treaty; (2) approval of a civil aviation agreement increasing each country’s air services to 18 flights per week; (3) conclusion of a tourism agreement with reciprocity as a basis of arrangements; (4) conclusion of an agreement with the Exim Bank for additional guarantees amounting to 204.5 million dollars for the Bataan nuclear power plant, subject to U.S. Congressional approval; and (5) approval of a World Bank loan package of 77 million dollars fro three energy projects, and an agreement to discover cooperatives measures to minimize loss if life and property due to the destructive effects of typhoons through advance tracking and warning technology.

Lamentably, however, the Bataan Nuclear Plant became a White Elephant since it was completed in the early ‘80s because of vigorous protest from various sectors, particularly leftist and militant groups who said it would be ticking time bomb, considering the nuclear waste it would gorge out. They also said an earthquake would put in danger the nuclear plant if it would suffer any leakage. Today, the Philippine government has to pay the principal and interests incurred by the state through a loan.

Bilateral and Mutual Security Relations

The Republic of the Philippines had a military bases agreement (1947), a military assistance agreement (1947), and a mutual defense treaty (1951) with the United States. Aside from these arrangements, the Philippines and the United States, together with six other states, were signatories of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty signed in September 1954 in Manila, otherwise called the Manila Pact. The United States collective Defense Arrangement depicts U.S. Global Collective Defense Arrangements.

The Military Bases Agreement

On 1 June 1983, the memorandum of agreement covering Part I of the 1983 amendments to the RP-U.S. Military Bases Agreement was signed. Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos commemorated the historic event with a speech delivered for the occasion. He gave a historical perspective of the Bases Pact, some important points of which are presented in the succeeding discussions.

Base Pact History

As earlier noted, the Philippine Republic was granted self-rule by the U.S. on 4 July 1946. Less than a year later, on 14 March 1947, the signing of the originally negotiated Military Bases Agreement took place with a period coverage of 99 years. However, in 1966 the Philippine government reduced the term to 25 years in accordance with the Ramos-Rusk Agreement. The original agreement has no provision for review or termination. Recognizing this basic flaw, the Military Bases Agreement of 1947, as amended in 1979, provided a mechanism for review, termination, and recognition of Philippine sovereignty over the bases. According to President Marcos, from the very start, U.S. Military bases establishment in the newly independent Philippines was not only been a national concern, but also a concern of other nations in the region. The degree of this concern is such that even the 1949 original negotiations, the 1979 review, and the 1983 review of the agreements have been watched by all interested parties critical to the results of the negotiations. The establishment of military bases was first embodied in the Philippine Independence Act of 1933 (Hare-Hawes-Cutting Law).
The law was controversial and was objected to by the Filipino people, following the example of then Senate President Manuel L. Quezon. The primary sources of dissatisfaction were the provisions for military bases empowering the U.S. President to designate any area of the Philippine archipelago as permanent naval or military bases to be kept by the U.S. after Philippine Independence.
The Tydings-McMcDuffie Law, enacted in 1935, succeeded the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Law. Because its provisions still authorized naval reservations and fueling stations on Philippine territory, the then newly elected Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon, continued to oppose the establishment of U.S. military bases in the Philippines. However, due to World War II, the controversial issue about military bases changed. World events necessitated that the U.S. Congress on 29 June 1944 approved Joint Resolutions No.93 and 94 empowering the U.S. president to enter into negotiations with the Philippine Government. It should be noted that Philippine Commonwealth had, at that time, established a refugee government in the United States.
In October 1944, with the restoration of a civil government, the Philippine Congress convened and passed Resolution No. 4 complementing U.S. Congressional Resolution No. 93 authorizing the Philippine President to negotiate with the U.S. President for the establishment of military bases to ensure Philippine and U.S. territorial integrity and peace maintenance in the Pacific region. In the aftermath of World War II, President Quezon approved military bases establishment in the country.
On the issue of the compensation package, it had been the contention that the appropriations set aside for the bases were rentals for the unhampered use of land in Philippine territory. On the U.S. side, however, such a compensation package is termed a Security Assistance Program. For the 1979 Amendment of the 1947 Military Bases Agreement, the Executive Branch of the U.S government pledged to make its best effort to obtain for the Philippines a 500 million dollar Security Assistance package, broken down. The 1983 Military Bases Agreement, to take effect in 1985 and for another five years, estimated expenditures of 900 million dollars; 125 million dollars in direct military grants, 300 million dollars in foreign military sales with low-interest rates, and 475 million dollars in economic aid.
The Philippine Government originally requested 1.5 billion dollars during informal negotiations that started in mid-April 1983.
One of the highlights of the 1983 accord was the provision that consultation with the Filipinos shall be made prior to the installation of long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles in the bases. This provision was to counter fears by those who would oppose in which nuclear weapons would be stockpiled in these bases.
The Agreement also provided the U.S. with additional bases for use as staging areas for the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) when required.
In summary, the salient features of the amendments to the military base agreements of 1979 included: (1) U.S. to affirm Filipino sovereignty over the bases; (2) RP to install a Filipino Commander within the base; (3) to reduce the areas within the base for U.S. use; (4) Filipino troops to assume the base perimeter responsibility; (5) to review the agreement thoroughly every five years, including its objectives, duration, and Implementation; and (6) to assure unhampered U.S. military operations when U.S. forces are involved in the Philippines.

Mutual Defense Treaty

This bilateral agreement signed 30 August 1951 is a treaty by which the parties recognize:
“that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on either of
the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety”
and each party agrees that it will act “to meet the common
dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes.”

The administration of the post-war independent Philippines was the responsibility of President Roxas, the Philippine signatory to the Mutual Defense Pact. He and the Liberal Party openly advocated that the Philippines should seek U.S. protection due to increasing influence of communism, which during the year 1950 had won several successes and victories. The situation then was aptly described by President Marcos who said:

In the bipolar world of the 50’s, following a costly
global war, and in the infancy of our new republic, the
international march of communism compelled us to make
common cause with non-communist nations to preserve
freedom as in other parts of the world…believing and
knowing that we are weak, we sought the shelter of a
collective defense umbrella.”

Thus, the Philippines, on a bilateral basis, entered the Mutual Defense Treaty and on a regional basis, joined the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). SEATO no longer exists.
The magnitude of U.S. Security Assistance to the Philippines should be taken into consideration, particularly its modernization efforts. Included in t his discussions are the MAP, FMS, Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program, IMET, Commercial Sales, and Economic Assistance.

U.S. Security Assistance Program to RP

Immediately after World War II, the Republic of the Philippines revitalized the Armed Forces with the assistance of the U.S. Government. Through bilateral agreements between the two governments, the AFP received significant quantities of U.S. military equipment, supplies, services, and training under the Grant Air Program.

It should be noted that the initial security assistance granted to the Philippines came from surplus stocks which were “without value to the United States” and for which program costs were small.

The gratuitous release of military and naval equipment were based upon existing laws, one of which was the Act of 5 August 1882, empowering the Secretary of the U.S. Navy to delete from the Navy Register vessels certified by the boards as unfit and to report to Congress the status of these vessels.

Military Assistance Program (MAP)

The map came into existence as a by-product of the Military Assistance Agreement (MAA) between the RP and U.S. governments initially negotiated and signed between President Manuel Roxas of the Philippines and Ambassador Paul V. McNutt of the United States on 31 March 1947.

It was one of the various programs by which the U.S. provided military assistance to the AFP at no cost (i.e. non-reimbursable). MAP was provided to the AFP, particularly the Philippine Navy, in the following categories: (1) ships loan arrangement - where the Philippine Navy vessels acquired on loan basis from the U.S. were MAP

Supported for outfitting and repairs; (2) ship at no cost lease arrangement – where Philippine Navy vessels were also acquired on a no cost lease basis from the U.S., and the PN shouldered the maintenance cost of the vessels; (3) MAP military projects – where funds were acquired from the proceeds of sales of obsolete or excess MAP assets in the country; and (4) U.S. Long Supply and Excess Program (LSEP).

Based on Philippine records, the AFP had been a recipient of MAP from 1948 to 30 September 1981. On 31 December 1982, the AFP received a total of 547.7 million dollars worth of major end items and accounted for 44.5 million dollars allotted for supply operations. Another 18.6 million dollars worth of items were delivered. It also presented the amount spent for packing, crating, handling, and transportation (PCHT), which did not directly contribute to the acquisition of items. If supply operations cost amounting to 44.5 million dollars were not taken from the program itself, the amount of 44.5 million dollars could have been used for the acquisition of additional materials, supplies and services.

In 1982, the AFP received MAP major and items programmed way back in 1974 amounting to 21.3 million dollars. Lead-time to delivery was one of the reasons why all MAP items programmed in previous years were received in 1986. Indeed, this highlights “lead time” as a critical problem in the Security Assistance package for the AFP.

Among the eight biggest MAP recipient countries, Philippines was the lowest at 608.99 million dollars. The highest were (1) Vietnam at 14.77 billion dollars from 1950 to 1975. Next highest was (2) South Korea at 5.47 billion dollars from 1950 to 1982. (3) Taiwan received 2.55 billion dollars from 1950 to 1982. (4) Laos received 1.46 billion dollars from 1950 to 1975; (5) Kampuchea received 1.17 billion dollars from 1950 to 1972; (6) and Japan received 810.77 million dollars from 1950 to 1972.

In connection with the military Bases Agreement of 1979, the AFP was allocated 25 million dollars under MAP for 1980 and 25 million dollars for 1981.

MAP FY 1980
Out of the 25 million dollars authorized funding level for MAP FY 1980, about 0.55 million dollars have been utilized to carry out supply operations such as packing, crating, handling and transportation 9PCHT). The rest of the program, in different portrayals, is as follows:

A. By Major End Items Amount %of Total Program
1. Fixed Comm. System $5.49M 22.5
2. Bell 214B Heli (2) 4.59 18.8
3. Various Engineer 3.70 15.1
Eqpt. w/CSP

4. Communication/ 2.50 10.2

5. Ship Overhaul and
Other Spares Support 3.75 15.3

6. Other Maintenance
Support 3.77 15.4
7. MG 7.62 MM M60 .65 2.7

Total $24.45M 100.0%

B. By Support Category Amount % of Total Program

1. Communications $ 8.20M 33.5
2. Mobility 4.18 17.1
3. Maintenance 7.22 31.6
4. Engineer 3.70 15.1
5. Armaments 0.65 2.7

Total $ 24.45M 100.0%

The major items in both programs depicted only a portion of the pressing logistics requirements of the AFP at that time.. In line with AFP modernization efforts, the development of communications accounts for the bulk of the program, followed by maintenance/SDRP, mobility, engineer equipment and armaments. The Operations and Maintenance (O & M) portion included the repair and rehabilitation of the early warning facilities, ship overhaul and other spares support of the major services. The second biggest portion of the programs, by type of item and services is applied for the development of AFP self-reliance efforts. By AFP unit allocations, the Air Force got the lion’s share of the program followed next by the COMMEL, Navy and the Constabulary in that order. Other AFP-Wide Support Units such as the PM and the AFPLC also shared in the program.

Excess Defense Articles (EDA) Program

The AFP received 99.234 million dollars worth of MAP-Excess Defense Articles out of 99.718 million dollars programmed from 1950 to 1982. EDA is the total dollar value of excess articles at its original acquisition cost transferred to a recipient country or international organization (56:v). It also referred to,
As being owned by the U.S Government and not procured in anticipation of military assistance or sales requirements or pursuant to a military assistance or sales order, which are excess to Department of Defense requirements at the time such articles are dropped from inventory from the supplying agency.

A good example of this program was the AFP acquisition of 34 Beaver U-6A aircraft and 64 assorted types of World War II vintage warships from the period 1975 to 1977.

Because of spare parts and maintenance difficulties due to obsolescence, in less than one year of operation, the fleet of U-6A was reduced to one half its original number. Similarly, the warships required extensive repair and maintenance prior to transfer from Japan to the Philippines were also discovered to be in the same situation.

International Military Education and Training (IMET) Program

Article 21 of the MAA provides that:

As part of the program of military assistance, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines shall be permitted to send selected students to designated technical and service schools of the ground, naval and air service of the United States [37:5]

The United States has trained 16,991 AFP personnel at a cost of 36.8 million dollars from 1950 to 1982. Training was conducted both overseas and in the United States. The costs associated with training include training aids and materials, for which the United States Government did not receive dollar reimbursement. The AFP IMET-program, particularly that proposed for FY 1983, has the following features: (1) emphasis on professional training for selected mid and junior level officers; (2) operational training in different areas, including maintenance, logistics, communications and electronics and administration. The AFO had always placed a high value on the IMET program. Both governments recognized that the IMET program promotes rapport, helps develop AFP training capabilities, provides better understanding of the United States particularly its values, traditions, political institutions and policies, culture and develops skills for the effective maintenance and operation of U.S.- made equipment and Philippine defense establishment management.

Foreign Military Sales (FMS)

Over the years, particularly during the 1970s, the limited U.S grant aid could no longer cope with the demands of a growing military organization, and to support its development program, as well as to maintain its forces in being. The FMS was the logical foreign procurement source for the AFP.

The AFP began to use FMS as a procurement source for military hardware sometime in the latter part of the of the 1960’s and up to 1972, had a meager FMS agreement total of about 8.202 million dollars. However, in 1974 the FMS procurement volume significantly increased and during this period (up to 1977) both FMS cash and credit transactions amounted to 263.0 million dollars or an average total of 468.9 million dollars in 1982. The sudden increase in the mid 1970’s FMS transaction was caused mainly by two factors: the imperative of national security and the desire to fulfill RP aspirations for self-reliance.

However, there was a downward trend for the combined MAP and MAP-Excess Defense Articles Programs, in contrast to the sudden increase of FMS agreements by the AFP. The mid 1970’s was the transition period for the AFP from a MAP grant recipient country to a full time FMS customer country.

FMS Cash Program

Based on AFP records, procurement of materials in FMS Cash terms started in 1969 when the AFP procured ammunition for the Philippine Army (PA) in the amount of $241,984. The biggest cash procurement was made in 1977 with contracts worth 65.3 million dollars were processed.

The AFP concluded contracts under FMS worth $211 million. FMS cash transactions required the AFP to pay directly for the items from its own funds. The U.S. was the major military hardware supplier to the Philippines for decades. U.S. manufactured items acquired by the AFP in 1965 up to 1979 included fighter/attack, transport, reconnaissance/electronic, trainer and utility aircraft, plus several Bell helicopters, frigates, patrol vessels, patrol aircraft, mine sweepers, coast guard craft, armored personnel carrier, tanks, air-to-air missiles, howitzers, rifles, mortars, machine guns and recoilless rifles.

FMS Credit Program

FMS Credit was supplementary fund source of the AFP, in the sense that it legally supplemented the AFP’s logistics procurement ceiling provided in the approved AFP Operating Program of a particular year by whatever FMS credits were available at that time, without the burden of using AFP appropriations directly (either for previous, current or future years) to repay such FMS credits availments.

Since the AFP first availed itself of FMS Credit in 1974, repayment of FMS Credit had been the responsibility of the National Treasury, using its own National Debt Servicing appropriations, while the AFP only provided from its appropriations the Guarantee Fee of ¼ of 1% of the credit amount.

Commercial Export Licensed Under AECA

The total dollar value of commercial exports licensed under the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) for the AFP from 1950 TO 1982 amounted to 54.525 million dollars. In Commercial Exports, the AFP representing the Philippine Government directly transacted business U.S. Manufacturers (56:v). Commercial sale transactions occur when the sale made by U.S. firms to the AFP is not DOD administered through normal FMS procedures (55: B4).

Economic Assistance

As amended, the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 authorized the Agency for International Development (AID) to administer two types of foreign economic assistance, namely the development assistance and economic support funds (55:5-9). Economic Assistance to the Philippines from 1946 to 1982 amounted to 2.26 billion dollars, about 1.8 times more than the military assistance to the AFP. The AFP did not directly benefit from this type of assistance, but, from the national perspective, it promotes economic and social benefits to a vast majority of people.

Economic Assistance Program Data

This type of economic assistance may be divided into four types, namely:
1. Development Aid
2. Peace Corps
3. P.L. 480
4. International Narcotics Control (50:91).

For FY 1982 the Economic Assistance Program Data allotted to the Philippines was estimated at 59.720 million dollars. In the administration of development assistance, AID concentrates its efforts on critical problem areas of developing countries, on the development of human and economic resources, on efforts to increase productive capacities, on the improvement of quality of life and on promoting enhanced stability in recipient countries (55:5-9).

Economic Support Fund (ESF) Program

In connection with the Military Bases Agreement of 1979, the Philippines received 200 million dollars of economic support fund from 1980 to 1984, of which 100 million dollars had already been made available to: support development on reverted base lands for an agricultural research station and site preparations for industrial development at Clark area; improve and upgrade health and sanitation standards of the municipalities around the bases through the construction of potable water, sewerage and other infrastructure projects; and support the development of rural energy and livelihood programs throughout the country.

It was the U.S. contention that ESF in the form of unrestricted cash grants was a flexible economic instrument designed to promote economic or political stability. ESF was also administered by the Agency for international Development (AID).

U.S. Security Assistance to RP, particularly MAP and other grant aid programs, may be summed up as limited, especially in comparison with the level of assistance given to East Asia and other Pacific countries. This was because of U.S. assistance, military and naval equipment at the outset of 1948 was required directly from U.S. stocks to initially equip the AFP whose force structure was virtually non-existent due to World War II destruction. Since then, the AFP force structure has grown to its present status.


As early as in 1980, the AFP had planned for a 10 to 15-year modernization, including the Self-Reliance Defense Program (SRDP) which has been envisioned to reduce AFP excessive dependence on foreign made light weapons systems such as small arms and ammunition, individual combat equipment and combat support vehicles.

It would be worthwhile to note that prior to the declaration of Philippine Martial Law ion September 21,1972, the AFP strength was only 58,000 officers and men. But in 1981, the AFP strength increased to 156,000 troops. This rise was generated primarily to deal with the Muslim secessionist movement in the Southern Philippines, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). But the deadliest security threat then and now has been the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its military arm, the New People’s Army (NPA).

From a ragtag rebel group in 1972, the NPA had grown to 25,800 Red fighters at the end of 1986. But an intensified drive launched by the AFP called “Lambat Bitag” in the early ‘90s during the Ramos presidency had reduced the NPA strength to 5,000 to 6,0000.

In 1983, to contain the communist and Muslim insurgency threats, the AFP was ordered to:

1. Procure more helicopters
2. Acquire more modern communication equipment.
3. Use all available helicopters and divert vehicles used for administrative duties to combat operations.
4. Ensure that officers and men assigned in these areas are combat ready.

Because of its experience during the MNLF uprising in Mindanao where the AFP was caught off guarded as it ran low of ammunition, then President Marcos ordered the construction of the Bataan ammunition plant. The AFP has become self-reliant in the production of small arms ammunition to date.

Air Force

The Philippine Air Force is the leading recipient of the U.S. Security Assistance Program among the AFP major services in terms of equipment received, spares support ordered and services rendered. Over the years, it had acquired U.S. made aircraft of different types.

A total of 358 aircraft of 29 different types were then in the PAF inventory. Of this number, 131 were combat aircraft plus 140 armed helicopters.

By the end of 1989 or two years before the RP-US Military Bases Agreement ended, the PAF inventory was about 470 aircraft. It seemed formidable. The PAF deployed the following squadrons: three fighter, three Counter Insurgency (COIN), two maritime patrol and Search and Rescue (SAR), three training, six transport, one utility/liaison, and four helicopter squadrons. These units operated and received support from six major bases, three air stations and three early warning facilities, strategically located throughout the Philippine archipelago. The three fighter squadrons operate a total of 81 assorted types of aircraft, out of which 51 aircraft are either undergoing depot/field maintenance or due for phase out because they are beyond economic repair.

In effect, only about 30 aircraft were assigned to the units for mission accomplishment with an average of 17.5 aircraft, or 58% Operational Readiness (O/R) rate at any one time. The average age of the four aircraft types was about 23 years maintainability and spares supportability difficulties. By international standards, all aircraft used in the fighter units were considered obsolete.

The F-8H Crusader aircraft built in 1965 were in storage in Davis Monthan Air Force Base until acquired by the PAF in 1978 under FMS with Vought Corporation contracted to refurbish 25 aircraft and 10 additional units delivered later as spares sources. Informal reports by fighter pilots flying the aircraft, indicated that most, if not all of the F8H were deteriorating in condition due to corrosion, with rivets popping out from the metal surface, accompanied by visible warping of the aluminum skin when the aircraft, F5A/B, T/RT-33A, and T-34A acquired through MAP.

The data for COIN squadrons of T-28D, AC-47, and SF260MP aircraft revealed that of the total number of 60 aircraft in the inventory, only 36 are possessed by the unit for accomplishing its task, with an average O/R rate of 8.2 aircraft. The first two aircraft types acquired thru SF-26OWP acquired from Italy with RP funds, exhibit a high O/R rate of 9 to 10 aircraft out of 12 issued to the squadron. This aircraft is relatively new, having served the Air Force for just 13 years at that time. Like the other aircraft types already discussed, the AC-47 and the T-28D, because of age, requires excessive repair time and since spare parts are difficult to obtain, maintainability suffers (12:10). All these aircraft mentioned had been retired by the PAF.

Three Fokker F-27-200 Long Range Maritime Patrol (LRMP) aircraft ordered in 1980 from the Netherlands and four U.S. produced HU-16B Albatross comprised the two maritime patrol squadrons. Informal discussion with pilots flying the HU-16B used for SAR missions revealed that the aircraft was unfit for seawater operations. On the other hand, the F-27 maritime aircraft r delivered in 1981 were extensively used for coastal patrol mission are now grounded due to old age.

The PAF utilizes the T-41D for primary pilot training and the SF-260MP for basic pilot training. As to helicopters, the PAF is confronted with the serious problem of battle damaged UH-1H’s. Because of the increasing number of helicopters undergoing depot/field maintenance, the PAF cannot fully support regional and area operational requirements. In contrast to this dilemma; it should be noted that with the flare- up of communist insurgency activities in the country, the need for mobility and maneuverability of AFP Forces has increased.

The full development of SAR and reconnaissance capability of the PAF would enable the Philippines to protect its territory against maritime poachers, ocean piracy, exploitation of RP’s exclusive economic zones and be able to fulfill its international obligations for Search and Rescue.

Experience revealed that due to the high cost of commissioning old equipment, the PAF seldom meets its programmed flying time. The average flight time reflects the estimated actual flight time flown by the aircraft monthly, not the programmed flying time, which is usually 20 to 30 percent higher. Among the reasons for this discrepancy are:

1. Lack of spare parts support to operate as programmed, which resulted in cannibalization of some marginally operational aircraft.
2. Obsolescence of aircraft, already mentioned in the status portion.
3. The U.S. policy of using FMS Credit to acquire major end items rather than spares/services.

In line with this modernization policy, the Air Force estimates its interim requirements to consist of 374 aircraft of 21 different types as against the existing force structure of 470 aircraft and 29 different types.

But by the end of 2000, the Air Force modernization has not taken off. . This effort will involve the acquisition of 220 aircraft in 10 different categories, costing ten to 15 billion dollars. The plan also includes the construction of from 6 to 10 bases, 3 to 5 stations and 3 to 6 early warning facilities.


The Philippine Navy, aside from its given mission of operating, training and organizing naval elements, has also been tasked to carry out anti-submarine warfare, provide sealift and other sea borne support for its sister services, protect shipping lanes, and execute plans for amphibious operations.

In carrying out its mission, the Navy has been provisioned with warships and other equipment. From the ashes of World War II, where virtually all Philippine shipping was destroyed, surplus U.S. naval vessels were granted to the RP from U.S. stocks.

These warships still form the nucleus of the Philippine Navy today. In terms of numbers of warships and other implements of war, the Navy appears, on the surface, to be adequately equipped to accomplish its multifarious tasks. However, since the Navy’s equipment, particularly vessels are of World War II vintage, a closer look at its status appears appropriate.


The Philippine Navy deployment of warships includes the following:
8Ex-U.S. frigates in three classes (average age – 50 years service); 10 Ex-I.S. Corvettes in three classes (50 years service); 16 large patrol craft in 5 classes (with 2 of these classes in service for 55 years); 4 hydrofoil patrol craft with an average of 35 years service; 59 coastal patrol craft in four classes (average of 30 years service); 28 Ex-U.S. Landing ships (also World War II vintage) and several other smaller ships such as the Landing Craft Medium (LCM) and Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP), with an age of service ranging from 20 to 40 years. The problems associated with these MAP acquired warships include spare parts difficulty and costly maintenance due to obsolescence.

The Navy also possesses others ships manufactured by Germany, Singapore and Japan. Included in the Navy inventory of ships are the locally manufactured coastal patrol craft of Marcelo Shipyard. These non-U.S made ships were acquired by the Navy through commercial sales. These ships are highly operational and extensively used to provide coastal patrol and surveillance.

Aside from having warships, the Navy through its seven battalions of Marines, was provided LVT4s and LVT5s thru MAP. All of these have been phased out. The Marine and the entire Navy operate from two major bases, eight naval stations and 32 facilities. Another point of observation, perhaps important in determining the status of these ships, is the fact that most of the bigger ships transferred and subsequently acquired by the Philippine Navy were initially issued to other countries , such as Japan and South Vietnam. The conditions of these ships may not have been at their best when received by the Philippine Navy. In the past, and even in the present, the Navy sends its warships for Maintenance and repair to the Subic Naval Base.

An illustration of this point was the sinking of RPS 76, an Ex-U.S. Common, a 1220 ton-warship in 1981 due to engine failure while negotiating the rough seas in northern Philippines.

Navy Requirements

A major thrust of the Navy’s modernization program centers
around the desire to improve its force structure along the areas of mobility, maneuverability, firepower, surveillance and communications. Having continuing need for more patrol ships, the Navy recommended the construction of the vessels by the local shipyards. Only the fire control system, propulsion system, gun mounts and other equipment not capable of being manufactured in the Philippines will be procured from foreign sources. Using local labor and the infusion of foreign technology, this idea would boost the self-reliance development efforts of the entire nation.

In line with the modernization program, the Navy requires at least seven billion dollars to finance the acquisition of patrol ships, patrol craft, fast, ship training simulator and Marine fighting vehicles.


The Army is the primary branch of service in the AFP with all the sister services providing necessary support when required.

To Carry out its mission, the army is equipped with close to 600 different types of combat vehicles, such as tanks, APC’s. fighting and tank recovery vehicles, 4,000 tactical and support vehicles; 273 assorted artillery pieces such as the 105 and 155 howitzers; and 262 units of different caliber recoilless rifles. The Army capability in terms of fighting vehicles and ordinance significantly improved during the 1970’s due to the RP’s heavy procurement of weapons to counter the Muslim secessionist movement and the on and off guerilla war against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its operating arm, the New People’s Army (NPA). It should be noted that the AFP had to but arms during this period from other countries, such as Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea because the U.S. was not able to meet RP’s request for the delivery of weapons not yet delivered under the Military Assistance Program.


A DMS Market Intelligence 1983 Report, states that the Philippine Army Force structure includes 78 tanks total in its inventory; 28 Scorpions, 25M24 and 25M41. The Scorpion tanks were bought from the United Kingdom in 1976 and to this date, the average equipment age is about seven years. The last two types, however, have an average of 31 years, with an unknown operational status for the M24, and only seven units ages, they are considered obsolete, with the Army experiencing spare parts and maintenance difficulties.

For the APC’s and fighting vehicles, the Army operates 175 units of five assorted types. The Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicles (AIFVs) are the latest addition, all having been delivered in 1979. Tthe AIFVs are costly to operate and maintain. In addition, all 20 Chaimite armored personnel carriers are no longer operated due to obsolescence. The 15 M-2 Half Tracks are still carried in the inventory and believed to be ready for phase out due to spare parts and maintenance problems. The 80 M13 APC’s and 1-V150s constitute the latest delivery to the Army and Constabulary. The APC’s supplied thru MAP and FMS are provided with Supply Support Arrangement (SSA) under the FMS Cash Sales program. The V-150 has been delivered under the 1980-81 MAP and is solely used by the constabulary battalions in their anti-surgency campaign. The Army has 3M-37 A2Cs, 312 M-355, and 3,000 mini cruisers, all categorized under the tank recovery, tactical and support vehicles, respectively. The first two types were acquired thru MAP and FMS, while the mini0cruisers are being locally manufactured. Due to their newness, with proper spare parts provisioning thru the SSA system, it is envisioned that these vehicles will continue service up to the year 2000. As far as army ordnance is concerned, recent acquisition of 105M howitzers thru MAP and FMS has bolstered the Army capability for firepower. This weapon system too is provided with SSA. Delivered from Israel in 1977-1978, the 1 55 MM also contributes to the improved firepower capability of the Army. Spare parts and maintenance of these guns may be an apparent problem as reported because 155MM Howitzers for which spare parts are provided under the FMS Supply Support Arrangement. Other recent acquisitions under MAP include 237 mortars, 262 recoilless rifles and 1,262 machine guns.

The greatest contribution to improve the AFP’s self-reliance effort, as well as firepower capability of individual soldiers, is the co-production program for manufacture of M-16 rifles begun in 1974 at a contact price of 29 million dollars.

Future Requirements

The army recognizes the need to continue development of its force structure that will deal effectively with internal security. Along this line, it must acquire weapon systems designed to cope with protracted guerilla warfare against the highly mobile and illusive communist insurgents and the Muslim secessionist movement. To improve mobility and maneuverability, the organization, in its modernization program, included the acquisition of 60 UH-1H for employment by three mobile companies and 20 Hughes 500D for a gunship mobile company. In a packaged deal, it has programmed the procurement of a limited depot and field maintenance capability. In its desire to improve combat support effectiveness and national development capability, the unit programmed additional engineering equipment. These acquisitions are envisioned to be taken from the military bases compensation package. For tactical and support vehicles, the army plans to acquire an undetermined number of M-8113, 5 tons trucks, additional M35s and CM-125s. It will modernize the force structure and improve the overall capability of the AFP in terms of mobility, maneuverability, firepower, communication, surveillance and reconnaissance.

At the height of the RP-US Military Bases Agreement, there were two ways proposed to achieve the AFP future acquisitions : a 10-year program and a 5-year program. For the first option, the 10 billion dollars requirement could be spread evenly from 1977 to 1988, each year at an authorization level for a 5-year program is 370.6 million dollars yearly from 1988 to 1992, the Military Bases Compensation Package covering the period 1982-1989 amounts to 575 million dollars, with FMS Credit program of 125 million dollars. Since the AFP future acquisitions ($2,853 millions) requirement is greater that the combined existing and proposed U.S. Security Assistance program ($575 million), there exists a shortfall of 2, 278 million dollars. This amount is negotiable in future military bases reviews, scheduled every other five years.

The phasing in of future AFP requirements would commence in 1988 because procurement lead time for major weapons systems such as aircraft and warships normally covers four to five years. It should also be noted that some of the weapons systems and other equipment enumerated for acquisition have already been ordered and are in the final stage of negotiation. Their delivery may be made sometime in 1997-1988.

The FMS Cash Sales program amounting to 963.8 million dollars from 1977 to 1982, the derivation of which was presented and explained earlier. The combined FMS Cash Sales and FMS Credit program for 1982-1989 (both programs reimbursable to the U.S. Government) equals 764 million dollars ($450 million for FMS Credit plus $314 million for FMS Cash). In comparison, the Direct Grant program for the same period totals 125 million dollars. The ratio of reimbursable assistance to Grant Aid is about 6:1 in favor of the reimbursable Security Assistance Program.

Self-Reliance Defense Posture (SRDP) Program

One major source for filling the logistics and material requirements of the AFP is the Self-Reliance Defense Posture (SRDP) program. Created under Presidential Decree No. 415, it authorized the Minister of National Defense to enter into contracts for national defense projects and operations citing the SRDP program.

By authority of PD No. 415, the Ministry of National Defense, General Headquarters, AFP issued circular No. 24 that serves as reference and guide for the implementation of the SRDP program of the AFP. It states:

To establish a self-reliant defense posture through the development and acquisition of material requirements of the AFP, maximizing the utilization if indigenous materials and production capability of the country.

The SRDP concept is further explained:

To produce in-country what we can for our defense needs essentially through the partnership between the Military and the Civilian establishments, while for the meantime, procuring from foreign sources these defense items which we cannot yet produce and that the assistance from the military or the government to develop civilian defense is an essential ingredient of the SRDP program.

The SRDP program was designed to lessen AFP dependence on imported weapons systems, promote development of Filipino technology, save precious foreign exchange and ensure continuous basic defense needs.

Weapons system program are limited to ammunition and small arms, particularly equipment used by individual combat soldiers. Civilian establishments engaged in producing these items, therefore, belong to the middle - level technology base. However, other civilian firms supporting the SRDP program are big corporations willing to undertake business risks in dealing with defense related systems. These firms may be discussed under the following topics: aircraft, warships, vehicles and communication – electronics production.


The Philippine Aerospace Development Corp.(PADC), through its subsidiary, National Aero Manufacturing (NAM), pioneers in aircraft manufacturing. So far, however, the firm is limited in assembling CKD aircraft, particularly the MBB BO – 105 helicopters of Germany and BN 2A-21 Islanders of Great Britain. As a concession though, the Company was licensed to make bubble top plastics and a few other airplane parts. In addition, maintenance facilities and services, to include training for the aircraft, have been established in t he Company’s plant in Manila.


Local shipyards have been alerted to manufacture gunboats (patrol craft) in country. This deal includes importation of technology to enable local firms to manufacture important ship component parts.

Another project is the Colt Industries and a Filipino Company in a co-production venture for the manufacture of M-16 rifle. This project was financed through FMS Credits amounting to 29 million dollars. As stipulated in the contract, the U.S. Company provides the technical know-how while the Filipino counterpart supplies the labor.

One important SRDP project is the manufacture of three types of radio communication systems used by combat soldiers. These are the URC-187, 773 and 601. The firm responsible for the manufacture of these sets is Vetronix Inc. in Manila. There have been questions on the RP-US Security Program over the years.

Question 1. What role has the U.S Security Assistance Program played in equipping/modernizing the Armed Forces of the Philippines?

Historically, the role of the U.S. Security Assistance Program in equipping/modernizing the AFP started from the time U.S Public Law 454 was enacted on 26 June 1945. It took effect on 4 July 1946. The Philippines received significant quantities of U.S. arms, military equipment, naval vessels of limited categories, supplies, training of selected AFP personnel and obtaining grants. Congruent with this achievement was the adoption by the AFP of U.S. logistic systems, doctrine, organization, strategic and tactical concepts, which date far back from the start of the twentieth century. The influence of the U.S. military system on the AFP is profound. Presently, U.S.-made equipment/weapons systems constitute about 90 percent of the overall AFP equipment inventory.

Over the years, however, as the AFP continuously operated and maintained the different equipment and armaments of war, obsolescence took its toll, reducing most of these one-time expensive equipment items to expensive hunks of junk. The AFP tried to program some of its modernization efforts have not evolved. In effect, MAP grant aid was not very responsive to the modernization program of the AFP. To compensate for this shortcoming, the AFP started to utilize Foreign Military Sales, both cash sales and credit terms. Using their own appropriation, AFP has programmed the minimum acquisition of spare parts, supplies and services for the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) of the fast aging SAP provided equipment. As could be gleaned therefore form this transaction, the AFP use of FMS cash sales were merely to keep the existing equipment operating. The AFP ha availed itself of the DOD guaranteed FMS Credit terms to acquire weapons system and equipment for its modernization program. Considering that the FMS Credit Program is reimbursable (plus interest payments), the AFP had exercised great care in its application.

In connection with the military bases agreements, the AFP use of Security Assistance Program as leverage for funding its modernization efforts was a great potential until the RP-US Bases Agreement was terminated in 1991.

As a consequence the AFP modernization program suffered a lot. The AFP lost close to one billion dollars in the non-reimbursable grant aid. If the Philippines are indeed part of a U.S. global forward defense system, the AFP must not be burdened with so much of the expense of modernizing its forces.

To its entirety therefore, U.S. Security Assistance had been very instrumental in equipping AFP forces, but not responsive and effective enough as far as AFP modernization efforts were concerned because fund allocated for this purpose were substantial. Likewise, the Security Assistance Program allocated for the AFP in connection with the revised military basing agreements, including both existing and proposed reimbursable/Grant Aid Programs was highly imbalanced.

The remaining balance of MAP delivered in 1986 amounted to 18.7 million dollars. The AFP could have fully benefited from these items had they been delivered during the mid part of the 1970’s when they were needed most. It is to be noted that undelivered items include those that were programmed during the 1975-1981 MAP. There are 339 assorted major end items that were delivered late. The items included howitzers, communication sets, combat and support vehicles, arms, aircraft, engineering equipment and other smaller items. AFP experience on receipts of these items revealed that delivery of materials took too long. Sometimes in the past, it took an item about ten years to be delivered to the AFP. For example end items programmed in 1974 were delivered in 1982. It would benefit the AFP more if delivery of materials were shortened as compared to what has transpired in the past.

Question 2. What are the specific implications of MAP termination to the AFP Major Services (Air Force, Army, Navy and Constabulary) logistics capabilities?


a. On maintenance capabilities and spares supportability considerations?

b. On major weapons acquisition?

Basically, major equipment, material, supplies, spare parts and services of the AFP were derived from the Military Assistance Program since 1946. As such, the bulk (90%) of AFP equipment is of U.S. origin. Necessarily, the maintenance, spares supportability and management concepts of these systems are U.S. oriented. Reckoning from the basic equipment of the Philippine Army infantry soldier to the Philippine Navy ship – aircraft of the Philippine Air Force, the signal, communications, avionics and electronics equipment or any other item under the AFP materials inventory-almost all are U.S. made items. Through the years, equipment, supplies and services continued to flow into the AFP inventory unhampered while the facilities for the repair and maintenance capabilities, even up to this stage, are slowly keeping pace. Production of selected spare parts, as well as the capability to develop some of these did not begin until the late 1970’s, necessitating huge capital investments.

Invariably, with the termination of MAP, the AFP budget would have to increase tremendously to meet the cost of maintenance and acquisition that were previously supported and augmented through MAP. The specific implications of MAP termination with respect to the Army, Air Force, Navy and Constabulary refer to the logistics operational activities which, due to the discontinuance of MAP, would cause an additional economic burden on the part of the AFP major service concerned.

These last two MAP years are highlighted because the prioritized items listed therein constitute portions of the current and potential future logistics needs of the AFP. Some of the implications (specific to the major services logistics capabilities) if MAP were terminated, will now be discussed.

a. On maintenance Capabilities and Spares Supportability Considerations

Map termination denied maintenance cost support for outfitting, repair, rehabilitation, and refurbishing of MAP ships acquired under loan arrangement and those acquired under direct transfer from the U.S. Adversely affected is the Philippine Navy which would then need additional funds from its own appropriations to maintain these ships in operational status. If the Navy could no longer support their maintenance, as a matter of policy, the Navy may mothball, decommission or return to the U.S. the cost-ineffective vessels. The Army and Air Force will also be adversely affected by the discontinuance of MAP. Out of 50 million dollars MAP for 1980 and 1981, 18.79 million dollars or 37.58%, was allocated by the entire AFP for maintenance capabilities and Spares Supportability. The newly acquiredV-150 armored car of the Constabulary, helicopters of the Air Force and engineering equipment of the Army have concurrent spare parts support sufficient to last one year. With the termination of MAP, subsequent spare parts supportability will be shouldered by the major services concerned. The armed forces will definitely look for additional funds for spare parts. Whereas, if MAP were to continue, spares supportability is assured. By type item priority, the AFP has allotted 12.82 million dollars or 26.19%, to support O&M for these two MAP years. Likewise, the major services have also programmed 16.16 million dollars for their self-reliance efforts. Since MAP has been terminated, AFP initiative along this area will be hampered.

b. On Major Weapons Acquisition

The PA, PC, PN and PAF acquired significant weapons systems which the AFP would have difficulty obtaining if not thru grant aid. With MAP’s termination, these AFP Units would be hard-pressed to acquire new equipment out of their own funds because new acquisitions are very costly and compete with the maintenance of existing systems. Out of 50 million dollars MAP FY 1980 and 1981, 30.16 million dollars or 60.32%, represents AFP major weapons acquisition. This current acquisition depicts the start of the AFP’s modernization program to develop its forces for improve mobility, better communications, firepower, maintenance and self-reliance, maneuverability and surveillance.

Question 3. What are the possible effects on the AFP Self-Reliance Defense Posture SRDP program with the termination of MAP.

The Self-Reliance program of the Philippines was set up on the premise that the program shall become a vehicle for export. The self-reliance industries are set up under the expenses of technology transfer and assistance, cost of machineries, tools and jigs, materials and interest of investment. Under this condition, U.S. as well as businessmen from other countries takes advantage of the non-bargaining-power situation of the local companies. Very often, the aforementioned expenses are too high to make the venture competitive in the export market. The requirement of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, in itself, is too small to maintain the viability of the industry. Export, therefore, is mandatory to assure the health of the self-reliance industries. It is along this line that the Security Assistance Program can assist by way of packaging a technology transfer and assistance program including a Technical Data Package at very reasonable cost.

The MAP termination had caused a substantial effect in the Self-Reliance Program. Another concern is the technology transfer and machineries. In contrast, it will spur more effort for self-Reliance to fulfill in where the MAP left off.

The Philippines plans to undertake its self-reliance program within the parameters of its basic and standard equipment only. However, for purposes of deterrence, it is advisable that development should be made on short range rockets and missiles, ground - to – ground missiles and air-to-ship missile. The Security Assistance Program was helpful in packaging a reasonable cost technology assistance in this undertaking.

The self-reliance is also needed for training in the method of manufacture, quality control, product test and evaluation and production management by way of seminars and on the job training in U.S civilian industries and military installations. The Security Assistance Program can indeed include a similar package.

The self-reliance concept just mentioned is in the manufacturing aspect. Another notion of self-reliance envisioned by the AFP is in the maintenance and repair capability areas for selected equipment including major weapons systems in the major services’ inventories. Developing the depot repair/reclamation capability of the AFP in specific types of equipment such as tanks, other tracked and wheeled combat vehicles, armaments, warships and battle damaged helicopters will definitely lead to AFP self-sufficiency in this particular area. However, if MAP were to be terminated, the AFP will lose the opportunity to continue acquiring the expensive special tools, support equipment, mock-ups/test equipment, assembly jigs and fixtures, and documentation necessary to develop, on a progressive basis, an in-country capability for depot level maintenance.

Question 4. What other possible sources of financial or military aid are available for the AFP from countries in the Pacific region?

In the conduct of foreign relations, it is the objective of the Republic of the Philippines to develop constructive and mutually advantageous relationships not only with the United States, but also with all the countries of the world regardless of ideology and creed. In the pursuit of this objective, the RP Government has established diplomatic relations with both socialist countries of the east and democratic countries of the west. The Philippines have further developed cordial and beneficial relations with the countries in the Pacific region such as Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the members of ASEAN organization, namely: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. In all of these countries, the Philippines have linkages in economic, cultural and social, political and techno-scientific cooperation programs. Based on the information presented, of the Pacific countries mentioned, only Australia thru its Defense Cooperation Program (DCP) may be regarded as a possible source of financial or military aid for the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The Australian Defense does not term this program as aid, which connotes dole outs. As the name implies the DCP is a cooperative venture between the

Australian Defense and the AFP in specific military projects, where each entity via a Memorandum of Agreement, agrees to share and undertake portions of the joint project. The application of the DCP though, as far as the AFP is concerned, has been limited only to Australia’s own weapons and other related systems.

Indeed, the AFP has, in the past, dealt with other Western Nations such as West Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland and Great Britain for small supplies of arms and equipment. 1980.

However , these nations have never shown the same degree of interest in Security Assistance for the Philippines as that demonstrated by the United States. Whenever military equipment was offered, the offer carried with its premium price tag. In addition, the logistics support systems offered were not compatible with those provided by the United States. In essence, the AFP cannot afford to pay premium prices for the weapon systems needed to fulfill the development requirements. Likewise, the expense of acquiring alternate or simultaneous logistical support systems would be prohibitive. Consequently, the AFP will inevitably continue to rely on the U.S. for financial and military assistance during the next decade.

A combination of the MAP Grant Aid and FMS demonstrated as the major source for the AFP’s equipage and modernization. The systematic approach for identifying, maintaining, planning, programming and acquiring sufficient force structure for the AFP’s modernization efforts, broken down, among the Army, Constabulary, Navy and Air Force has been earlier established. The same can be said for the AFP future requirements for modernization. They can be achieved within the next 10 to 15 years. But the bottom line is an improved Philippine economy.

Since acquisition of major weapons systems such as aircraft and warships require long lead-time, negotiations for the procurement of these systems must now commence.

The military bases in the Philippines were part of the U.S. global forward deterrent system to prevent another war. They existed for the mutual protection and benefit of both the Philippines and the U.S. The AFP, as part of that deterrent force, contributed its share to achieve this aspiration; and necessarily, helped promote U.S. interests. But that was the Cold War years. The situation has changed, particularly when the Soviet was not as it was before.

After the pullout of the bases, the Philippines is left on its own for its defense. There is a need for its force structure modernization to improve present capability. The Philippines must cope with future complexities.

The Philippines could have told the Americans that in exchange for the retention of the military bases the US would modernize the AFP, using the “take it or leave it formula.”

But apparently the Philippine government failed to capitalize on this principle that could have baited the Americans to give in.

The US really wanted to retain the bases for at least another 10 years from 1991 had the Senate voted for their retention. Cory Aquino was not decisive when she became president.

Considering that Cory was so popular when she assumed the presidency, she could have used the occasion to state her demand, avoiding her most-repeated phrase of having her option open, but nonetheless went all out for the retention of the bases at the last minute.

What President Aquino could have done was to lay her cards open at the outset, telling the Americans that if they really wanted to extend the bases, the should give preference in the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

It was a deal the Americans could not repudiate because they wanted the Philippine bases badly for their forward defense.

At that time, particularly in 1986 just after the People Power revolution Cory was so popular that she could have asked the Americans what she wanted to modernize the AFP.

The Philippine Air Force needed to replace its aging F-5A jetfighters with F-16s. The F-5s were acquired by the Philippines in 1965. It was time to replace them in 1986. The Air Force used to be second to none in Southeast Asia at the end of the Second World War and until the 60s. The Air Force acquired in 1978 the F-8 Crusaders but the aircraft was practically junked by the Americans sold to the Philippines.

The Philippines made the mistake of buying the F-8. Less than a year in the service, the Air Force retired the F-8 because it was virtually a “flying coffin” wherein a number of the aircraft crashed, killing the young pilots.

In 1988 the Air Force acquired two squadrons of S-211 jet trainer planes from Italy. The aircraft is now being used as an “attack” plane as the Air Force was prompted to do it because they have no fighter-interceptor in their inventory after the retirement of the F-5s and F-8s.

The Air Force also experienced the shortage of helicopters due wear and tear of the UH-1H “Huey” choppers that are the mainstay of the PAF up to this day.

The “Hueys” saw action in the AFP’s counter-insurgency operations for many years. They were bought from the US under the RP –US Military Assistance.

From a high of 140 “Hueys” in 1972 at the height of the MNLF war in Mindanao, there was a time that the number of choppers in the PAF’s inventory went down to a shocking twenty! Yet the AFP is fighting a three-pronged war – against Moro rebels, communist guerillas and the Abu Sayyaf terror group.

After suspending the military assistance to the Philippines in 1992 following the closure of the bases, the US slowly restored its security grant in 2002 to about five million dollars – a token compared to the time when the Philippines used to receive as much as $800 million annually when there were US military installations in the country.

The reason why the Americans restored its military assistance to the Philippines though at a much, much lesser amount was that they needed the Philippines in the new kind of war – a war against terror follow the 9/11 bombing in New York and Washington.

It can be noted that the Americans acted swiftly by asking the Philippines to sign the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) to enable US troops to conduct joint military training exercises with their Filipino counterparts.

In February 2002, the RP-US Balikatan Exercise resumed after almost a decade of suspension.

About 800 US combat troops arrived in Manila for the resumption of the Balikatan Exercise on the island of Basilan in southern Philippines.

The month-long war game focused on guerilla warfare with the Americans using modern weapons and electronic equipment to support ground troops in tracking down small band of guerillas.

The US soldiers were not allowed to conduct combat operation against the Abu Sayyaf.

Filipino troops were the ones who went after the Abu Sayyaf.

It was during the 2002 Balikatan Exercise that Abu Sabaya, one of the most wanted terrorist leaders who participated in the abduction of 21, mostly foreign tourists in Palawan in May 2000 was killed.

The AFP unit that was responsible for the killing of Sabaya and two of his cohorts during a sea battle off the coast of Basilan on June 7, 2002, was trained and equipped by the US.

Equipped with powerful weapons and night goggles and other sophisticated gadgets, the AFP Special Anti-Terrorist Unit, backed by good intelligence, tracked down Sabaya while trying to sneak out from Basilan aboard a speed boat to nearby Zamboanga del Sur.

The killing of Sabaya demonstrated the effectiveness of the importance of joint RP-US combat training wherein interoperability of forces is emphasized.

Since that time, the US increased steadily the US military assistance to the Philippines from $5 million to $104 million in 2006.

The US also handed over to the Philippines one C-130 “Hercules” cargo plane, one Cyclone gunboat and some refurbished “Huey” helicopters.

With terror attacks on a global scale as an offshoot of 9/11, America needs her allies worldwide against terrorism.

It may be recalled that the Philippines was one of the first countries in the world to support America’s call in the concerted effort to fight terror that knows no boundary, race or creed.

The Philippines being strategically located in Southeast Asia will continue to be a partner of the US and other freedom loving countries in the all-out war against terror.