US rushing PH to approve military access agreement, says leftist lawmaker

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01:06 AM August 30th, 2013

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By: Allan Nawal, Karlos Manlupig, August 30th, 2013 01:06 AM

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. AP FILE PHOTO

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—A lawmaker warned the US has been rushing the Philippines into signing an agreement that would allow US military to have access to the country’s military facilities.

Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate said US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel flew to the country and met with President Benigno Aquino III to “rush the country into signing the framework agreement on the increased rotational presence of US soldiers and give them wider access to facilities in the Philippines.”

“US Secretary Defense Hagel and President Aquino are ramming the access agreement down our throats,” Zarate said.

He said the meeting undermined the efforts of the Senate and Congress to review the constitutionality of the agreement and the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and glossed over “protests against the increased and permanent presence of US soldiers in the country.”

Zarate said the Makabayan bloc has called for the scrapping of the 13-year old Visiting Forces Agreement through House Resolution No.8.

He criticized Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario over the latter’s statements that US soldiers might use Philippine military bases should a war break out between North And South Korea.

“The Philippine government is freely letting the US government use our country as a staging ground for war against North Korea and China to the detriment of the Filipino people who do not know the real intention of their overdue stay in the country,” he said.

Zarate said he would raise these issues in the congressional deliberations on the budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs as well as in the meeting of the Legislative Oversight Committee on the VFA (LOVFA).

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