The pledge came from US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell on the first day of an inaugural security dialogue between the two allies.
"One of the subjects for discussions tomorrow will be the bilateral steps that (we) can take to increase the Philippines' maritime capacity," Campbell said.
This would enhance the Philippine navy's capacity to police its waters, he told a joint news conference.
"We think this is a critical component of our partnership. Much of this work is already underway and we seek to intensify it in the months and years ahead," he said without giving details.
Recall that in 1992, Filipinos pompously closed doors on any hope of extending America's further use of the Philippines as a base for its key military assets in the Pacific. Removal of US bases in the Philippines was a flagship "promise" of Cory Aquino in her successful campaign and "revolution" that saw her ascent to the Philippine Presidency in 1986; a promise which she broke in 1991 when she started a campaign to have the lease agreement between the US and the Philippines extended.
Unfortunately, a bar against further American military presence in the Philippines was by then enshrined in Cory Aquino's ironic 1987 Constitution. Furthermore, Filipinos' renowned perverse sense of "nationalism" won over the Philippine Senate whose members at the time voted 12 to 11 to reject any further evaluation of the possibility of extending American military presence in the country over a significant period. This is a testament to the destructive power of popularity-fueled political momentum that steamrollers over sober and detached critical thinking that is securely tethered to what is real.
Some estimates put the economic contribution of the US presence in the Philippines at $1 billion annually -- encompassing local employment of Filipinos, contracts with Filipino businesses, economic aid, and other indirect economic benefits that trickled into the rest of the country.
More importantly, American bases in the Philippines gave Filipinos a profile in global politics that we could never have built nor will most likely ever build on our own flaccid merits. As I wrote in my piece "American influence gives Pinoys a place in global geopolitics":
America’s influence fills a vacuum that exists in the intellectual landscape of Philippine society much the same way as another legacy of American presence — the jeepney — fills a void in our country’s mass transport capability.
We as a people lack a cohesive agenda and vision that is bigger than the petty politics that frames our politicians’ posturings. Here then is what is real: Whether we like it or not, American influence gives us a place (pathetic as it may be) in global geopolitics. It is a choice between that and the laughable small-mindedness of Pinoy thinking that will determine and govern that place.
And even more realistically;
If America withdraws its influence on Philippine internal affairs, some other global power will simply step in to fill the void.
A testament to this is the sorry record of attempts of Filipinos to build upon the infrastructural wonders left behind by the Americans at its biggest facilities in Subic Bay in Zambales and Clark in Pampanga. Indeed, as I wrote in yet another piece "We can still be friends"...
there is no shortage of reminders on the extent by which our faculties for exercising a bit of imagination remain utterly stunted. This trait of ours in conjunction with, our renowned heritage of smallness, our focus on the droll, trivial, and irrelevant, and our insularity, i.e., ...[...] narrowly restricted in outlook or scope; being provincial, being narrow in scope, or considering only small sections of an issue; narrow-minded
... go a long loooooong way in explaining why we are so utterly inept at sustainably turning resources served up to us on a silver platter into reliable streams of recurring income. Consider that the latter phrase describes the cornerstone concept of the definition of the business enterprise.
In our pathetic 100% reliance on all things foreign and 0.0000001% reliance on inherent capability (because there is none); the lack of that substance that would have routinely cushioned a crash in any number of these periodic financial collapses, simply means that our implosion as a society and as an economy sees no bottom (specially when seen in the context of the embarassing 2.3% p.a. clip at which we multiply).
Thanks to the 12 bozos who voted against US military bases in the Philippines in 1991 -- Senate President Jovito Salonga, Sens. Wigberto Tanada, Teofisto Guingona, Rene Saguisag, Victor Ziga, Sotero Laurel, Ernesto Maceda, Agapito Aquino, Juan Ponce Enrile, Joseph Estrada, Orlando Mercado, and Aquilino Pimentel -- Filipinos have, right in their faces today, a sad lesson twenty years in the making in what it is like to languish outside the American sphere of what is globally relevant.
Filipinos cannot do it alone. We have proven it time and again. This is evident in how we now pathetically scrounge around for (1) foreign capital (to the point of looking seriously into throwing our doors fully open to it) and (2) political favour with America, China, and/or whatever global power will rescue us from our pathetic insignificance in the global scheme of things.