Latest Stories

PH, US start military talks


MANILA, Philippines—The opening round of talks between the Philippines and the United States for an agreement on increased US military presence in the country took almost six hours on Wednesday, but details of what was discussed would not be revealed until Thursday, officials said.

The talks, which began shortly before 9:30 a.m. and ended at 3:30 p.m., were held at the Edsa Room of the Department of National Defense (DND) building at Camp Aguinaldo, which had been used by former President Fidel Ramos, the then head of the Philippine Constabulary, and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, the then defense secretary, during the crucial four days of the first People Power Revolution of 1986.

Defense undersecretary Honorio Azcueta stressed the significance of the venue when he welcomed the US and Philippine panels.

Same room

“Now we begin our negotiations in the same room with the need in view of coming out with a framework that will further enhance our existing robust defense relations. I exhort both panels to remain candid and frank so that the outcome of this undertaking will redound to the best interest of our two countries,” he said.

The Philippine panel is headed by Carlos Sorreta, assistant secretary at the Department of Foreign Affairs, with members defense undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino, justice undersecretary Francisco Baraan III and defense assistant secretary Raymund Quilop.

Round by round

The US panel is composed of State Department officials Eric John, ambassador and senior adviser for security negotiations and agreements of political-military affairs, and Elizabeth Jones, attorney advisor; Brig. Gen. Joaquin Malavet, of the US Defense Department; and Captain Greg Bart, deputy legal counsel, Office of the Chairmen of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Sorreta said “details of each round of talks will be revealed to the public through media in the spirit of transparency.”

The public will be given an update on what was discussed on Wednesday at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Commissioned Officers Club (AFPCOC) in Camp Aguinaldo.

Malacañang said Wednesday the Aquino administration was dead-set on coming up with the agreement despite concerns it might be a violation of Philippine sovereignty.

“Does it stop us? No. We are going ahead with the discussions on the framework agreement,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, reacting to a warning from Akbayan party-list member Walden Bello that they could be impinging on the country’s sovereignty.

Lacierda said Philippine negotiators would work within the parameters of the Constitution and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

In a statement released by the DND, Sorreta said the Philippine panel was going to the negotiating table “guided by the Constitution, utmost respect for sovereignty, and mutuality of benefits in any approved activity and deployment of equipment.”

“We would like to assure the Filipino people that your government is committed to defending and protecting the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he added.

The plan for an increased “rotational presence” of US military troops is widely viewed as a deterrent to China’s increasingly aggressive stance in laying claim to almost the entire West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

It also comes at a time of the US’s rebalancing of its military forces in the Asia Pacific region in the face of increasing Chinese aggression.

No working title

Still without a working title, the agreement “will further implement the terms and conditions of the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement pertaining to temporary presence of US forces in specific facilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and will thresh out the details of the agreed policy on IRP (increased rotational presence),” the DND said.

It will be different from the Balikatan exercises which are limited to joint war games between Philippine and US forces.

Sources said the new agreement would likely contain provisions on the use of US equipment by the Philippine military in situations in which these would be needed.—With TJ Burgonio and Norman Bordadora

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: increased US military presence , Military , military talks , Philippines , US

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • US teacher fired over comment on black president
  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  • Title of new Hillary Clinton book: ‘Hard Choices’
  • Filipinos, Dutch re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  • 14 killed in car bombing in Homs
  • Sports

  • Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters
  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Las Vegas ‘Pinoy Pride’ fest hails Filipino heritage
  • Marking Jesus’ journey on Good Friday
  • Filipina accomplice arrested for fake bills in Malaysia
  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
  • WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  • Marketplace