U.S. Lowers Its Flag at Subic Naval Base for the Last Time

Reuters

The United States lowered the American flag over its Subic Bay Naval Base for the last time Wednesday and formally handed over the giant complex to the Philippines.

A steady drizzle drenched about 150 diplomats and military officials as a U.S. Navy band rang down the curtain on nearly a century of U.S. military presence at the base.

"This is in some way a sad day," U.S. Ambassador Richard Solomon told the ceremony at the base's Tappan Park.

". . . It is our hope that the excellent harbor and valuable facilities that we are leaving behind will now contribute to the economic development of the Philippines."

The brief ceremony on a circular platform surrounded by American flags effectively signaled the end of an era when Washington saw the Philippines as a major bulwark of its Cold War military might.

The last 1,200 to 1,300 American military personnel are due to leave the nearby Cubi Point Naval Air Station in November.

The United States had wanted to stay at Subic and other bases in the Philippines for 10 more years but was forced to leave after the Philippine Senate refused a year ago to ratify a new bases treaty.

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