Key dates in US-Philippines ties

Posted at 04/28/2014 11:54 AM

MANILA - US President Barack Obama begins a two-day trip to the Philippines on Monday. Here are key dates in more than 100 years of relations between the United States and one of its closest Asian allies:

May 1, 1898: Commodore George Dewey crushes Spain's wooden-hulled fleet at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American war. In December, the Treaty of Paris ends the war, part of the terms seeing the United States paying Spain $20 million to take over colonial rule of the Philippines.

February 4, 1899: An American patrol on the outskirts of Manila kills three Filipino nationalists demanding independence, triggering three years of fighting which the United States says claimed the lives of more than 20,000 Filipino rebels and 4,200 American troops.

November 9, 1901: The United States sets up a naval reservation in the Philippines that would become Subic Bay Naval Base, a key Navy repair yard during the Vietnam War. Fort Stotsenburg, the precursor to Clark Air Base, is established nearby in 1902.

January 17, 1933: The US Congress passes a law to give the Philippines independence after a 10-year period of self-government under American supervision.

December 8, 1941: Japanese bomber planes attack Clark Air Base, eight hours after destroying Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, as the United States is drawn into World War II. Japanese amphibious forces reach the Philippines within days to begin more than three years of brutal occupation.

April 9, 1942: American and Filipino forces under joint US command surrender near Manila. About 12,000 American and 63,000 Filipino prisoners of war are forced at gunpoint into a six-day "Death March" to a prison camp in the northern Philippines. Malnutrition, disease and Japanese bayonets kill between 7,000 and 10,000 prisoners, according to the US military.

July 5, 1945: The United States liberates the Philippines after a 10-month military campaign.

July 4, 1946: The United States grants the Philippines independence.

August 30, 1951: The Philippines and the United States sign a mutual defence treaty pledging to come to each other's aid in case of an armed attack on either side.

November 24, 1992: The helicopter carrier USS Belleau Wood sails out of Subic Bay, ending nearly a century of US military presence in the Philippines. The closure came two months after the Filipino Senate rejected a proposed 10-year bases treaty extension, amid rising popular sentiment against the United States.

February 8, 1995: Estranged from its US ally, the Philippines finds structures built by China on a strategically important South China Sea outcrop called Mischief Reef, which Manila claims as part of its continental shelf. The discovery ignites years of tense maritime confrontations between the Asian neighbors and drives the Philippines back to an American embrace.

February 10, 1998: The Philippines and the United States sign a Visiting Forces Agreement, paving the way for increased military cooperation including resumption of large-scale annual joint military exercises on Filipino soil. The Philippine Senate ratifies the treaty in May 1999.

September, 2002: As US president George W. Bush wages a "global war on terror", small numbers of American Special Forces troops deploy in the southern Philippines to train and provide intelligence to Filipino soldiers fighting Al-Qaeda-linked Filipino Muslim militants. This begins a rotating but permanent US presence of about 500 soldiers in the south.

May 19, 2003: Bush designates the Philippines as a major non-NATO ally, bolstering military cooperation against the threat of terrorism.

April 28, 2013: As part of Obama's effort to rebalance US forces towards Asia, and against the backdrop of Manila's tensions with Beijing, the Philippines and United States sign an agreement to allow a greater American military presence on Filipino territory.

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