The Philippine Senate seemed set this week to vote against the treaty signed last July that extended U.S. access to its giant naval base at Subic Bay for 10 years. Rejection of the agreement will bring to an end more than 90 years of American military presence in the Philippines.
The new base treaty needs the approval of two-thirds of the 23-member Senate. Although President Corazon Aquino, the armed forces and a large majority of the public clearly favor the agreement, 12 Senators are adamantly opposed, thus killing any chance of ratification.
The Philippines faces the loss of $305 million annually, which the U.S. had agreed to pay for the use of Subic Bay over the next 10 years; some 25,000 jobs for Filipinos on and around the base, with a payroll of more than $110 million annually; and the prospect of diminished economic and military aid. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney reflected Washington's tough response when he declared last week, "We'll pack up and move. That's it." But other officials indicated that the U.S. would listen if, in the next few months, the Philippines can find a way around the Senate's rejection.