The rejuvenation of Philippine–American security alliance in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States has created opportunities and expectations for both countries in their fight against international terrorism. For the Philippines, supporting Washington's war essentially opened channels for increased U.S. military assistance that enabled the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to gain the upper hand in its fight against local Islamist terrorist and secessionist groups led by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). On the other hand, the United States gained much more from the revived alliance because it was able to secure a mutual logistics accord that would enable it to use Philippine territory in its campaign against international terrorism. The security interests of the Philippines and the United States on the issue, however, are by no means absolutely mutual. This chapter examines the nature and dynamics of Philippine–American security relations since 11 September, and looks at the influence of political and economic factors in the domestic, regional, and international levels that continue to shape the Philippines’ policy of supporting the United States’ war against international terrorism.
Bilateral Alliance: An Overview
Philippine–American security relations, dormant since the removal of the U.S. military bases in Clark and Subic Bay in 1992, were reinvigorated following the tragic event of 11 September. Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and U.S. President George W. Bush have both considered international terrorism as a serious threat to international security, and both leaders have pushed for closer military co-operation between their two countries in the fight against terrorism. However, the mutuality of Philippine and American security interests on this issue was complicated by domestic and external factors that to some extent have constrained their revitalized bilateral alliance, especially for the Philippines. For one, the deployment of a small contingent of U.S. forces in Mindanao, in February 2002, caused the re-awakening of anti-American sentiments among Filipino nationalist legislators and civil society groups — a kind of reverse déjà vu that preceded the closing days of American military presence in the country in the early 1990s.