To protest the greater access offered by the Philippine government to the U.S. under a 10-year agreement signed on Monday, militant groups in Manila burned the effigy of visiting U.S. President Barack Obama in an afternoon rally.
U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg and Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin inked the agreement at a military camp before Mr Obama arrived in the afternoon from Malaysia, the third leg of his four-nation Asian trip.
Under the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement, which militant groups are against, Manila grants American troops temporary access to some Philippine military camps and would permit them to preposition fighter jets and vessels.
Goldberg said the deal will promote peace and security in the region and allow the two nations which had been allies to respond faster to disasters and other emergencies.
The U.S. used to control vast tracts of land in Subic and Clark in Pampanga province that served as U.S. military bases for decades. In 1991, the Philippine Senate voted to shutter the two bases, but nature hastened the closure when Mount Pinatubo erupted in June that year and made the American troops hastily leave the two camps.
The signing of the 10-year agreement - instead of a treaty which requires parliament's assent - is the highlight of Mr Obama's first visit to the Philippines. His visit is timely since Manila's military power is being tested by China asserting that some parts of the country belong to the Asian giant.
In a joint press conference of the two presidents who are in their early 50s, Mr Obama said the agreement is not meant to counter or control China since Washington has a constructive relationship with Beijing.
However, the second-term Democrat president also said, "Our goal is to make sure international rules and norms are respected and that includes in the area of international disputes," quoted by the Voice of America.