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US to start talks on increased US military presence in PH

The Philippines and the United States will start negotiations on an arrangement that will allow increased rotational presence of US military in the country.


The talks will push through amidst gradually tense territorial arguments between Manila and Beijing over resource-rich South China Sea territories.


The Philippines has turned to the US, Australia, Japan and other allies in a constant effort to modernize its military, among the weakest in the Asian region, and reinforce its capability to guard and defend its territory, including Manila-claimed territories in the disputed South China Sea.


In line with this, the Department of National Defense and the Department of Foreign Affairs have sent a letter to the leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives to formally inform them of the upcoming negotiations with the US government.



In the letter, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said that allowing American troops to have an increased rotational presence that will help the country attain a minimum credible defense to guard its territory while it struggles to modernize its own military, one of Asia’s weakest.



It also means more resources and training for reacting to disasters in a nation often battered by typhoons and earthquakes, the secretaries added.



However, the negotiations is tainted with controversies wherein some groups seem to disapprove the increasing presence of American troops in the country, being a former US colony.



In 1991, the Senate voted to close down major American bases at Subic and Clark. Indeed, the Constitution prohibits foreign troops from being perpetually based in the country, but the Senate ratified a 1999 pact with the United States that allows momentary visits by American militaries.



Gazmin and Del Rosario assured lawmakers that any new accord with Washington will be consistent with our Constitution.

Corabelle is the Bayanihan's Phillippine News Correspondent.