MANILA, Philippines – Militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) is demanding the government to disclose details about the ongoing negotiations for increased rotational presence of United States troops in the country.
“Despite all the pronouncements of transparency, the Aquino government has kept the details of the ongoing negotiations for increased US rotational deployment under wraps,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes said Friday during a rally at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Pasay city.
“The proposal will surely go against the Constitution and has far reaching implications for national sovereignty, security, and even the environment,” Reyes said.
DFA secretary Albert del Rosario had earlier said that the interests of the Philippines will be protected and that transparency will be observed throughout the course of the talks.
“Our Philippine negotiators have been given parameters that require them to ensure that our Constitution and laws are fully respected. They have been tasked to ensure that Philippine interests are preserved and promoted,” del Rosario said at a press briefing last August 12.
“Transparency is extremely important in these negotiations. Our people need to know that our laws are observed and our interests are protected at all times,” he said.
With the conclusion of the first round of negotiations, Reyes said it was unclear how many troops would be allowed, and how long and where they would stay in the country.
“We find alarming the statements of the Philippine negotiators that there will be no specific number of troops being rotated. This could mean 100 to 10,000 US troops at any given time,” Reyes said.
“There is also no specified duration for their stay. They may be rotated but their actual presence can last for years as we have seen in Mindanao,” he said.
There have been 600 US Special Forces on “rotational deployment” in Mindanao since 2002 making “their presence already considered permanent,” Reyes said.
It was also unclear, he said, where the US troops will be staying during their rotational presence in the country.
“From what we are hearing, it seems that the entire Philippine archipelago will be open to US troops and warships. US troops will not just be limited to Subic and Clark. They can access any Philippine facility and station their troops there,” Reyes said.