Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume III, Number 44 December 7 - 13, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
Base in the Making?
defense authorities have denied they intend to rebuild a military base in the
Philippines opting instead to maximize the Visiting Forces Agreement and
increase America’s forward presence through war exercises. A recent Stratfor
report says otherwise, suggesting that plans are afoot to construct a military
base in Sarangani Bay near Gen. Santos City in southern Philippines.
April last year, Stratfor revealed that the U.S. government was preparing a
forward base in the Philippines - with Gen. Santos City as potential site - for
future “counter-terrorism” strikes in Southeast Asia.
military presence has increased in the Philippines particularly in Mindanao
under the declared objective of fighting “terrorism.” Thousands of U.S.
troops have taken part in Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) war exercises and
special operations training. The exercises have also included some combat
missions that saw U.S. special forces side by side with Philippine troops in
hunting down Abu Sayyaf bandits in Basilan and neighboring provinces.
the exercises have also led to the long-term deployment of some U.S. troops and
the installation of military logistics facilities supposedly in support of the
said that the United States “is preparing to widen its footprint in
conflict-torn Mindanao. Washington has pledged funds to help develop
conflict-stricken areas if and when a peace settlement is reached between the
island's main rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and the Philippine
Stratfor said, U.S. and Philippine defense officials plan to hold the next
Balikatan exercises in North Cotabato in central Mindanao as part of joint
efforts to hunt down Jemaah Islamiyah.
September, there were sightings of U.S. military personnel in General Santos
forcing City Mayor Pedro Acharon, Jr. to confirm the presence of U.S. military
advisers. The mayor said the advisers were there to assess infrastructure
projects funded under the U.S.’s Philippine Aid Plan.
gave the dubious explanation that U.S. soldiers were appraising civilian
projects because embassy personnel would not risk traveling to the area due to
security concerns,” Stratfor said.
before the Stratfor report, there had been signs that the United States plans to
build a military base in General Santos, initially with the construction of a
USAID-funded huge airfield and a hotel complex.
have also been studies in the U.S. Navy articulating the reacquisition of its
naval base in the Philippines as a valuable support for U.S. military projection
in the region. The commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Command has also
recently confirmed plans to expand and reposition its military forces in the
region to cope with new security requirements.
With its extensive port and air facilities, Sarangani Bay would be an ideal place for a U.S. base in southern Philippines. From the base, U.S. forces would be in a strategic position to launch and support campaign against militant Islamist groups on Mindanao as well as in nearby Indonesia and Malaysia, Stratfor said. Bulatlat.com