Malacañang assures: No permanent US bases
Manila, Philippines — No permanent bases, just access to military facilities.
Malacañang yesterday reiterated its assurance that there will be no permanent bases to be established by the United States in its military deal with the Philippines.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that while talks on the Framework Agreement on the Increased Rotational Presence of US troops here are yet to be completed, he assured that there will be no permanent military bases by the US.
“Any concerns about whether it’s permanent bases, certainly, it is not. This is, again, only providing them access,” Lacierda said.
“We are very cognizant of the limitations imposed by the Constitution and other applicable laws. So the Philippine panel works around those parameters, and so there should be no issue as to permanent basing,” he said.
Lacierda said that while the Executive and Legislative branches of government have different interpretations on whether or not the agreement needs ratification by the Senate, the best thing to do is to just wait for the agreement to be completed.
The Palace had had said over the weekend that there is no need for a ratification of the agreement by the Senate. However, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago insisted that there should be Senate ratification.
“Until such time that we have the agreement, then we will see, but we have not seen the language of the agreement yet. But we are very, very cognizant of the applicable laws and of the Constitution,” Lacierda said.
“It is an agreement that builds upon and/or implements the provisions of the Mutual Defense Treaty as well as the Visiting Forces Agreement. Both agreements have been ratified by the Senate,” he explained.
“So in the view of the Executive branch, these are merely provisions which implement both treaties, which have already been previously ratified by the Senate,” he added.
Sen. Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV backed the position of the Executive branch that the proposed enhanced military cooperation is an executive agreement that does not need ratification by the Senate.
The enhanced RP-US agreement, according to Trillanes, is a merely a specific implementing guideline of the 1952 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) signed during the Estrada administration.
Trillanes stressed that this new agreement has nothing to do with the current Philippine-China territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.
“Well, let China interpret that particular… We don’t need to send a message I suppose. The medium is the message,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda when ask, “What message is the Philippines sending out to China as it continues to settle on a Philippines-US defense treaty on increased presence of American troops in the country?
But Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, vice chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the Senate wants to know the specific provisions of the proposed agreement, particularly on the US troop presence in the country.
He also agreed with the view of Senate President Franklin M. Drilon that senators should be briefed by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of National Defense (DND). Angara said the Upper Chamber should not readily accept Malacañang’s position that it needs no Senate ratification.
Earlier, Malacañang had assured that the negotiations between the Philippines and the US on the framework agreement for the increased rotational presence of US military in the country will not be hastened for the upcoming visit of US President Barack Obama next month.
Last week during the sixth round of talks held in Washington, DC, the negotiations made a breakthrough as the Philippine government agreed to allow US forces to use military bases in the Philippines.
Reports said that under the draft accord, the Philippines will allow US forces joint use of facilities in some military bases such as those in Manila, Clark, Palawan, Cebu, Nueva Ecija, and La Union.
President Aquino himself said they want to ensure that the framework agreement will conform to Philippine laws as well as to those of the US government.
The negotiations for the Framework Agreement on increased Rotational Presence of US troops began on August 14, 2013. (With reports from Mario B. Casayuran and PNA)