Negotiations on the status of U.S. military bases collapsed today over how much Washington will pay to use them, and the chief Philippine delegate said the gap is so great that the talks may not resume.
The United States now pays about $180 million a year for the use of Clark Air Base, Subic Bay Naval Base and four smaller installations. Foreign Secretary Raul Manglapus, who leads the Philippine negotiators, has called $1.2 billion "more realistic."
Mary Carlin Yates, a member of the American team, described the suspension as a "temporary break in the talks" and said U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Platt expected the negotiations to resume soon. They began in April.
Leonides Caday of the Philippine team said his group decided on indefinite suspension because of "substantial disagreement on the compensation issue."
Manglapus notified President Corazon Aquino of the breakdown and later told reporters that she "realizes that our position is a reasonable one and that we should stick to it."
"I don't know whether the talks can resume, but right now, our positions are so far apart that I don't think we can resume," he said.
Clark and Subic Bay are the largest U.S. installations abroad, and U.S. officials say they are essential to protecting East Asia from Soviet military expansion. The United States also is the Philippine military's main arms supplier in its 19-year battle with Communist rebels.
About 40,000 American military personnel, dependents and Defense Department civilians are stationed in the Philippines.
Talks are held every five years to review the Military Bases Agreement signed in 1947, the year after the Philippines became independent of the United States. It expires in 1991.
U.S. diplomats have said privately that they fear pressure to close the bases will increase if the Philippine government is dissatisfied with the compensation talks.