Friday, February 10, 2012

US to send second ship to bolster Philippines

WASHINGTON: The United States will soon give a second Coast Guard cutter to the Philippines as part of efforts to boost the ally's military amid tensions at sea with China, officials said on Tuesday.

The United States last year transferred its Hamilton cutter to the Philippines, which made it the flagship of its notoriously dilapidated navy and recently sent it on a mission to the disputed Spratly islands.

Lawmakers will this week conclude formalities to send to the former US colony another cutter, the Dallas, Representative Ed Royce and senior Pentagon official Peter Lavoy told a congressional hearing.

"It should soon be on its way to Manila," said Royce, a Republican from southern California whose district has a significant Filipino American community.

"The US and the Philippines want peace and stability in this region, which is key to the global economy," Royce said as he chaired the hearing of a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee.

The Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries have accused China of bellicose behaviour over disputes in the South China Sea. Despite historical sensitivities about US troops, the Philippines has said it would welcome further rotations by US forces on its soil and more joint exercises. Read More