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No to nuke in PH

Palace: Deal Bans US Ships, Aircraft From Carrying Nuclear Weapons

Manila, Philippines — No United States ship or aircraft carrying nuclear weapons will be allowed to enter the Philippines under a proposed military agreement between the two countries.

Deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte made this clear yesterday, stressing that the proposed defense accord prohibits the US military to bring into the country nuclear weapons in accordance with the Constitution.

“We have been explicit and the panel is very cognizant of this, that whatever negotiations take place, any agreements reached will have to be under the ambit of the 1987 Constitution, as well as the existing framework of the MDT (Mutual Defense Treaty) as well as the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement),” Valte said in a news conference at the Palace.

Asked if US ships with nuclear capabilities will be banned from the country, Valte said: “You have to draw the distinction between nuclear-capable and those carrying nuclear weapons because the distinction is very obvious in the Constitution.”

Pressed whether a ban will be imposed against ships that carry nuclear weapons in the country, Valte said: “(The answer is) quite obvious.”

The Philippines and United States panels recently agreed on key points in the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), including access to local military bases and non-permanence of American soldiers.


Greater Access

The draft agreement gives the US military greater access to military bases only at the invitation of the Philippines to strengthen its defense capability and disaster preparedness. It also prohibited the establishment of a permanent US military presence or base in the country.

The proposed defense pact with the US will be submitted to President Aquino for review. The pact could be signed during US President Barack Obama’s visit to Manila at the end of the month.

The Palace had earlier said the President will ensure that the new defense deal with the US will be constitutional and promote national interest.

Asked if the American soldiers will be given access to the former US bases in Subic and Clark, Valte deferred to the Philippine panel to address the issue, admitting she is not privy to the details of the proposed military accord.

“While there were reports that the eighth round of negotiations had already concluded, such that both panels will now go back to their principals, until there is an agreement, there is nothing hard-and-fast that will be up for discussion,” she said.

“It is not yet complete. It will still undergo review and approval of the President,” she added.


Congress Consultation

Meanwhile, lawmakers said yesterday that there is no need for Congress to be consulted on the proposed defense agreement.

Deputy Speaker and Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao and MAGDALO party-list Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo expressed confidence that majority of Congress members support the security deal, which seeks to fortify the country’s defense capabilities.

“There is no need for Congress to be consulted. I think many members are convinced enough that we need the agreement,” Aggabao said in an interview.

“The constitutional issue is entirely a different matter. I will bet some sectors will mount a legal challenge, however, Congress deals with the agreement,” he explained.

Acedillo argued that since the EDCA is not a treaty, there is no need for Congress to step in.

“I don’t think Congress should be consulted because the AEDC is an operational agreement and not a treaty,” he said.

Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. said that while it would be good if Congress would be consulted on the issue, President Benigno S. Aquino III, serving as the chief architect of the country’s foreign policy, has the final say on the EDCA. (With a report from Charissa M. Luci)