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U.S. HANDS SUBIC BASE TO PHILIPPINES

The American flag was lowered at Subic Bay for the last time Wednesday as the United States formally handed over the giant naval base to the Philippines.

The handover signaled the effective end of nearly a century of U.S. military presence in the former American colony, although a few hundred servicemen will remain at the nearby Cubi Point Naval Air Station until November.Some 150 diplomats and military officials from the two countries presided over the handover of the Subic base, 50 miles northwest of Manila.

The last 1,200 to 1,300 American servicemen will retreat to the Cubi air station before finally withdrawing Nov. 24, leaving the Philippines without immediate U.S. protection for the first time since independence in 1946.

They have been forced out by the Philippine Senate's refusal a year ago to ratify a new treaty that would have given Washington the base facilities for 10 more years.

A 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty will remain in force, however, and the United States has signaled its interest in negotiating some form of continued access.