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While Subic Bay was already controlled and administered by the U.S. Marines, the Americans did not fully oocupy the area until 1902 due to disagreements over the best strategic location for a fleet base. The General Board of the United States Navy had recommended Guimaras Island, south of Manila, as the most suitable site for the main American Naval base in the Philippines in 1900. Dewey, now an Admiral of the Navy, and Admiral George Remey, Commander of the Asiatic Fleet, disagreed with the plan and insisted upon the strategic benefits of using Subic Bay. The two admirals were successful in their argument – and Subic Bay was eventually chosen.
Subic Naval Station under American Control
US President Theodore Roosevelt also supported the decision, stating: “If we are to exert the slightest influence in Western Asia, it is of highest importance that we have a naval station in Subic Bay.”
Roosevelt, on November 9, 1901 by executive order, reserved the waters of Subic and some of the adjacent lands for naval purposes.
The US President issued another Executive Order in 1904, designating Subic Bay and 70,000 acres of adjacent land, including Olongapo as an American military reservation. Concerted American development of Subic began as early as 1904. A community of indigenous personnel was an integral part of the naval establishment during the years of American rule prior to World War II.
In the same year, Major Lincoln Karmany, Governor-in-Charge of the US Naval Reservation, issued a notice to the attention of the Acting Governor of the province of Zambales, Don Gabriel Alba, placing Olongapo under the US Reservation territory.
Olongapo village then was at the west half of the small land flange at the east side of the bay, which was later to be occupied by the US Navy‘s Public Works Center. The native Filipinos also occupied the areas of Binictican and Boton.
Among the most significant events during this period was the establishment of the first municipal government administered by the presidentes municipal, who discharged the civil functions of government.
Consequently, the US Congress appropriated funds totaling $1 million for the development of a major naval facility in Subic Bay.
Tensions with Japan escalated in 1907, however, and this caused a shift in policy-where more strategic emphasis were placed on the development of a major base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Consequently, all major works to further develop the facility in Subic Bay was halted. Despite further construction, the facilities at Subic Bay were heavily involved in overhauling and maintaining the US fleet during World War I.
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