Defense chief Gazmin: US troops not aimed at ChinaBy Frances Mangosing
MANILA, Philippines – As talks on the increased rotational presence of the US troops in the Philippines went in full swing, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said China should not be worried by the impending boost of American presence here.
“They shouldn’t be agitated because we have a treaty with the Americans, and that includes helping us to be capable of protecting our territories and addressing disaster operations,” Gazmin told reporters at Camp Aguinaldo.
He also emphasized that the presence of the Americans is not directed towards China or any other country.
“This is for a country that aims to be strong and be able to defend its own territory,” he said.
Several hundred US troops are on short-term assignments in Mindanao, where they will train and advise local troops fighting terrorists.
Early this year, China had criticized the growing presence of US troops in Asia as it rebalances its forces towards the region.
“There are some countries which are strengthening their Asia Pacific military alliances, expanding their military presence in the region and frequently make the situation there tenser,” part of the defense ministry report was quoted as saying.
The Philippines and US recently finished its second round of talks in Washington, which they discussed further the boost of American presence here, which includes the understanding that US military’s use of and access to Philippine facilities will be at the invitation of the Philippine government.
Both panels also agreed that the increased rotation presence “will be temporary and comply with the country’s Constitution.”
During a visit to the Philippines last week, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that Americans would not establish military bases in the Philippines.
Gazmin said that Subic is eyed by the Americans, but said that it is only one of the proposed sites.
“That is not the definite but we will offer the use of Philippine military bases, facilities so they will be able to get access,” he said.