US troops to have 'persistent, intermittent' presence in Philippines

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — As the United States and the Philippines move forward with the implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, US Ambassador Philip Goldberg said that American troops' activities will be "persistent but kind of intermittent."

The Philippines had earlier identified five military bases where US troops and supplied can be stationed under the EDCA. which the Supreme Court has ruled with finality as constitutional on Tuesday.

In an interview on ANC's "Headstart" on Thursday morning, Goldberg said that the US troops will preposition supplies for humanitarian assistance and bring in rotational forces and equipment in all of the five military bases.

"It won't be permanent," Goldberg said, adding that US aircraft will also be stationed in the bases at some point.

Goldberg stressed that the EDCA is not aimed at China despite the dispute over the South China Sea.

"People should understand that EDCA, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, should not be seen in light of the South China Sea dispute but rather in terms of our mutual security relationship," the US envoy said.

The US envoy noted that the sea dispute should be resolved in a diplomatic and legal fashion following the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the Philippines's case against China.

Last week, Goldberg and the US Congressional delegation visited the Antonio Bautista air base in Palawan to inspect the site for future construction of military facilities.

"We have military construction funds which have not been yet appropriated which was why the Congressional delegation was here looking at some of the sites because they're responsible for appropriation of that money and they were impressed with the agreement," Goldberg said, referring to the EDCA.

Goldberg added that the US is also supporting the country's law enforcement community and its fight against illegal drugs.

In his meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte at Malacañan on Wednesday, Kerry discussed Washington's support for law enforcement activities. The US has committed $32 million to support the new administration's law enforcement efforts.

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