US and Philippine officials have confirmed that Subic Bay, once home to the 7th Fleet and the site of the United States' largest overseas naval base, is to host US personnel on a semi-permanent basis.
The Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that a rotational deployment of US forces had been ongoing since 2011. "President [Benigno] Aquino has authorised this, as have both houses of Congress, and it is a move widely popular with the Philippine people," said DFA Visiting Forces Agreement Director Edilberto Adan, a retired general and former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
"The US will not return to the bases they gave up in 1991, but they will be here regularly and are welcome here," said Adan. He added the resultant increase in joint military exercises would have an effect beyond better interoperability and improvements in AFP doctrine and equipment. "It improves our security and, to be honest, gives people in Southeast Asia peace of mind."
Subic Bay's port facilities were built during the Cold War to handle the anchorage requirements for the US Western Pacific fleet. The US left the naval base in 1992.