Manila, Philippines – Malacañang said yesterday that talks with the United States government on enhancing defense cooperation is toward enhancing the Philippines’ defense capability, particularly in maritime defense, but dismissed any possibility on the establishment of permanent US bases here.
Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) Secretary Ramon Carandang, in a press briefing yesterday, said there are no plans to establish permanent US bases here similar to that in Subic, Zambales and Clark, Pampanga, noting that discussions on enhanced defense cooperation between the two countries are in the early stages.
“None of these initiatives involves any kind of basing arrangement similar to what we had prior to 1991,” Carandang said. “What we are really looking at is enhanced defense cooperation.”
He also assured that any agreement done with the US will not violate Philippine laws as well as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which is being reviewed on a regular basis.
The VFA between the US and the Philippines, which started in 1999, is a legal guarantee for American troops deployed in the Philippines during military exercises and ship visits.
“Any arrangement we have with the US or any other country will be done in conformity with our treaty and our laws and our VFA, in particular with the US, so we do not believe any of these things will be violative of the law,” Carandang said. “We are not talking about a permanent military presence here, we are talking about temporary presence which would not violate our Constitution,” he said. (Madel R. Sabater)
WASHINGTON – Senior United States and Philippine officials discussed increased military cooperation last Thursday, US officials said, as Washington seeks to reassure Asian allies anxious about an assertive China.
The talks are set against a backdrop of plans for greater US military cooperation with the Philippines, Singapore, and Australia as Washington adopts a new defense posture for Southeast Asia.
US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the US-Philippines meetings at the State Department build on points Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton made when she visited Manila last November.
Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Lavoy met Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Erlinda Basilio and Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino, Nuland said.
The talks are set to continue through yesterday.
‘’This will be a chance for… Lavoy to brief Philippine counterparts on the new defense strategy… and also to talk about how we can work together to build capacity, increase training, increase cooperation in line with that,’’ Nuland said.
Under budgetary pressures, President Barack Obama’s administration has adopted a new defense strategy, shifting the military focus from Iraq and Afghanistan to Asia, where China’s new assertiveness has rattled US allies.
Nuland recalled that Clinton, when she visited Manila, backed enhanced military cooperation with the Philippines while stressing that Washington did not aim to re-establish military bases or deploy forces permanently there. (AFP)