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US bases removal made Philippines prone to intruders

MANILA, Philippines - The removal of the United States military from the Philippines made the country vulnerable to intrusions, the country's defense chief said Tuesday.

"When the US bases [were still operating in Subic, Zambales and Clark Field, Pampanga], all of our maritime areas were free from intrusions as US forces helped us patrol those areas," National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

Gazmin said that the country's intrusion problem grew when the US removed its bases in 1991. The US military left the country after the Senate refused to extend the lease of the American bases in the country.

The defense chief said that aside from this, the Philippine military's lack of equipment and capability made the country more vulnerable to intrusions.

"Our lack of equipment and capability made it easy for (some of) our neighbors to place markers on our territories, claiming it for their own," he said.

Gazmin also complained against the slow paced modernization of the military. He said the degradation in the Philippines' surveillance capability was further highlighted when the Armed Forces of the Philippines was only given P32-billion out of the P330-billion intended for its modernization.

The defense chief, meanwhile, said that the government is hoping to lessen the incidents of intrusions when the country starts commissioning its brand-new search radar systems, naval craft, and reconnaissance aircraft within the next few months.

The Philippine Star | April 17, 2012 | Article Link

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