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US, Phl resume talks on increased rotational presence

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Talks on a deal allowing increased rotational presence of US troops in the Philippines resumed yesterday.

Negotiators could not say whether an agreement would be crafted in time for US President Barack Obama’s visit on Oct. 11-12.

The fourth round of talks will cover arrangements to grant the US access to Philippine facilities.

Details of the negotiations were unavailable as of press time.

However, Philippine negotiators led by Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino are expected to brief the media about the meeting on Thursday.

Philippine panel spokesman Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Carlos Sorreta said: “The agreement will be signed if the Philippines is sure it has gotten what it wants. It’s when we are sure that we met the parameters given to us. It depends on how the agreement progresses. It may come in soon, it may come in later.”

Officials said they are past the halfway mark in the negotiations but could not say when a deal would be completed.

Militants protest

Militants greeted the resumption of the negotiations with protests.

Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said: “The Obama visit is the incentive for the Philippine government to fast-track the approval of the framework for increased rotational deployment, which is a de facto basing agreement violative of our national sovereignty and Constitution.

“The claim that this pact will enable our country to develop a minimum credible defense posture is a sham, a deceptive ploy concocted by the Aquino and Obama regimes.”

No US bases

Philippine negotiators have belied allegations that the framework agreement would allow the US to set-up permanent bases in the country.

They said talks would be guided by the principles of strict compliance with the Philippine Constitution, laws and jurisprudence, Philippine sovereignty, non-permanence of US troops in Philippine territory, non-exclusivity of use of facilities by the US side, and mutuality of benefits, they added.

The Philippines and the US have adopted a policy of increased rotational presence amid China’s recent actions in the West Philippine Sea.

Security officials believe providing temporary access to US troops will help the country attain a minimum credible defense.

 

AQUINO AND OBAMA BAYAN DEFENSE UNDERSECRETARY PIO LORENZO BATINO FOREIGN AFFAIRS ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARLOS SORRETA OBAMA PHILIPPINE PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA RENATO REYES WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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