^

Headlines

Phl, US move closer to base access deal

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines and the United States are moving closer to finalizing a deal granting American troops greater access to military bases in the country, a defense official said yesterday.

Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino, chairman of the Philippine negotiating panel, said the eighth round of talks on the base access agreement was “very productive.”

“This round brought us much closer to finding full consensus, and the draft provisions on key points of an enhanced defense cooperation will be submitted to the President for his review,” Batino said in a statement.

Batino said the two panels have found consensus on key points in a draft agreement. He did not provide details.

He reiterated that key provisions and modalities in a deal would reflect full respect for Philippine sovereignty, non-permanence of US troops and a prohibition against weapons of mass destruction.

Negotiators have also agreed that there would be no US military basing in the Philippines, Batino added.

Lourdes Yparraguirre, Philippine ambassador to Austria and member of the negotiating panel, said the alliance with the US “continues to be and must remain relevant.”

“Our only option is to make our alliance stronger if we are to maintain international and regional security,” Yparraguirre said.

The 8th round of negotiations was held as the Philippines prepared for US President Barack Obama’s visit on April 27.

It was also the first meeting of the two panels since the Philippines submitted a written argument to the United Nations arbitral tribunal on its case against China’s excessive territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippines has agreed to provide the US greater access to its military facilities in the face of China’s menacing posturing in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea.

China is claiming almost the entire West Philippine Sea and South China Sea. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

Militant groups have criticized the government for entering into base access talks with the US, saying any basing agreement would violate the Philippines’ sovereignty.

Officials, however, insisted that the agreement would be in accordance with the Constitution and existing laws.  

Talks with Japan

As an agreement on an enhanced military cooperation with the US shapes up, Philippine Navy officials have also opened discussions with their counterparts in the Japanese Navy for greater collaboration on issues including the maritime dispute with China.

“In response to the invitation of Admiral Katsotoshi Kawano, chief of staff of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF), the Philippine Navy sent a delegation to Tokyo for the 3rd PN-JMSDF staff-to-staff talks from April 8 until yesterday,” said Navy spokesman, Lt. Commander Gregory Gerald Fabic.

The group, Fabic said, also discussed lessons learned from the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda in Eastern Visayas, where Japanese soldiers were among the first to respond and conduct disaster relief and rescue operations.

“The staff-to-staff talks are conducted as one way of strengthening bilateral relations and discuss matters that will increase the degree of cooperation, promote mutual understanding, trust that would contribute to the stability in the Asia-Pacific region,” Fabic said in a press statement.

Earlier, Japan approved the delivery of 10 brand-new patrol vessels to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

Fabic said the Tokyo talks also touched on the terms of the Defense Cooperation and Exchanges (DCE) between the Department of National Defense and the defense ministry of Japan.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Japan Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto signed the DCE on July 2, 2012.

“The DCE covers the various defense exchanges such as working level exchanges, education and research exchanges, capacity building, exchange of information, multilateral cooperation and other forms of cooperation as may be mutually decided upon by both countries,” Fabic said. – Alexis Romero, Jaime Laude

 

ADMIRAL KATSOTOSHI KAWANO

ALEXIS ROMERO

BRUNEI AND TAIWAN

COMMANDER GREGORY GERALD FABIC

DEFENSE

DEFENSE COOPERATION AND EXCHANGES

FABIC

PHILIPPINE

PHILIPPINE NAVY

WEST PHILIPPINE SEA AND SOUTH CHINA SEA

  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with