Philippine Lawmakers Demand US Pays for Bases to Fund Cash-strapped Military Pension Scheme

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Philippine lawmakers have pushed the Marcos administration to amend two defence treaties with the US and make the long-time security ally cough up for using Manila’s military bases to fund a cash-strapped armed forces pension scheme that is staring at “financial collapse”.

Senator Francis Escudero said he backed fellow legislator Ronald dela Rosa’s proposal seeking to make American troops pay for their presence in the country to revitalise the pension funds of military and other uniformed personnel (MUP).

Escudero, a lawyer, said the United States “usually pays host countries for its foreign bases to cover the expenses of building, maintaining the sites and paying rent or other financial compensation to the host country”.

“These agreements are usually established through formal diplomatic channels and can be revised or renegotiated over time,” he added.

In April the Philippines announced the locations of four more military bases, including near the Taiwan Strait and the disputed South China Sea, that it is allowing the US military to use on top of the five agreed under the 2014 Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

China has warned the expanded deal could endanger regional peace.

In 2021 Manila renewed the long-standing Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with Washington after Rodrigo Duterte, who was president at the time, threatened to scrap the pact allowing US troops to operate and train in the Philippines.

There are currently around 500 US military personnel in the Southeast Asian nation.

Dela Rosa last week accused the US of not paying anything for its presence in the Philippines and suggested the government collect money from Washington to prop up the MUP (military and uniformed personnel) pension system that President Ferdinand Marcos Jnr has warned will run out of cash within six years if it does not become self-sustaining.

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Featured image: Philippine Marines join with US Marine Corps during an exercise at Naval Base Camilo Osias in the Philippines last year. Photo: US Marine Corps

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