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Philippine sees naval port as vital to US

Published on Oct 8, 2012 5:16 PM

SUBIC, Philippines (AFP) - The Philippines said on Monday a former US naval base facing the South China Sea could play a key role as a hub for American ships as Washington moves to boost its presence in the Asia Pacific.

Formerly the US military's largest facility overseas, the ex-Subic Bay naval base north of Manila has been transformed into a freeport and tourism zone since it was shut down in 1992.

But a senior Philippine official pointed out that, with the United States planning to shift the bulk of its fleet to the Pacific by 2020 as it focuses on Asia, it would need natural deep water bays to dock its ships and submarines.

"Based on US official pronouncements, there is a strategic rebalancing (of its forces) and that means more assets, more aircraft in the Western Pacific," said Edilberto Adan, a former general who heads the government's Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) commission.

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