MANILA, Philippines—Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said on Saturday the greater presence of American troops in the country should be welcomed as it was allowed under the longstanding mutual defense treaty between the Philippines and the United States.
The country’s top diplomat, however, stressed that the establishment of a US military facility could only be granted if it would be under the control of the Philippine military and would not violate the Constitution, which bars the US from having military bases in the country.
“Our MDT (Mutual Defense Treaty) calls for joint action if either the Philippines or US is attacked. It would then be logical to assume that in the event of an attack on the Philippines or on our treaty ally, the US would be allowed to use our bases,” Del Rosario told the Inquirer yesterday.
“For example, if the US were to propose a facility in the Philippines to support humanitarian assistance, disaster response and maritime security—one that is mutually beneficial, one that is controlled by the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and one that is not violative of the Philippine Constitution—we should welcome that form of assistance and cooperation,” he said.
Del Rosario made the comments when asked for his take on Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin’s statements made on Friday on the possibility of restoring the US bases in the Philippines in case of a war in the Korean Peninsula.
Gazmin had said that permitting the return of US troops to the Philippines may happen “in cases of extreme emergency,” including the breakout of a war in the Korean Peninsula.
Amid doubts on its weapons and nuclear launch capabilities, North Korea has threatened to wage war against South Korea and its ally, the United States, following fresh international sanctions for its nuclear tests earlier this year.
The two countries along with Japan, another defense ally, have raised their defense posture amid Pyongyang’s persistent war rhetoric.
The Philippines is closely monitoring developments in the Korean Peninsula, mainly to look after the welfare of some 40,000 Filipinos residing there.
The US bases in Clark, Pampanga, and Subic Bay, Olongapo City, were booted out of the Philippines in 1992 through a Senate vote, ending nearly a century of permanent US military presence in the country.
But defense cooperation between the two countries has been close in the last 20 years since. More recently, both sides vowed to further deepen their relationship amid common concerns in the region.