US (L) and Philippine (R) flags are prepared for the opening rites of the 2011 Philippine-US Balikatan Exercises at a military camp in Manila. AFP FILE PHOTO
MANILA, Philippines – The United States will this year double military aid to its ally the Philippines, which is engaged in a prolonged maritime standoff with China, the foreign department in Manila said on Friday.
The ramping-up of Washington’s defense assistance will see military aid in 2012 jump to $30 million as well as “real-time information sharing” on the Philippines’ maritime territory, department spokesman Raul Hernandez said.
“We have been making representations for this since last year,” he said, stressing this was before the outbreak in April of the tensions with China.
The increased aid was confirmed during the recent US visit of Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin for talks with their US counterparts Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta.
They discussed the almost month-long face-off with China over a shoal in the South China Sea that is claimed by both countries.
The Philippines also asked the US for ships, planes and radars to help modernise its poorly equipped military.
Hernandez said the “foreign-military financing” aid could be used to buy new equipment or maintain existing military resources.
The US State Department also said “it will explore additional creative funding streams for the Philippines”, he told Agence France-Presse.
“The Philippines and the United States would also intensify cooperation in real-time information sharing to enable the Philippines to know what is happening in its maritime territory and enforce its laws,” Hernandez added.
He did not specify how this would work.
The Philippines was already due to receive from the United States a Hamilton-class cutter later this year, following the acquisition of a similar patrol ship last year, he stressed.
In recent months, the Philippines has complained of increasing aggressiveness from China, which claims all of the South China Sea, even up to the coasts of the Philippines and other Asian nations.
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