PH – Japan visiting forces agreement negotiations underway
MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. on Monday said the Philippines will formally begin its negotiation over the visiting forces agreement with Japan.
Teodoro said the negotiating team led by Department of National Defense Undersecretary Pablo Lorenzo already left for Japan to spearhead the talks for the reciprocal access agreement (RAA).
“Our team has left this morning, our negotiating team has left this morning to start the formal round of negotiations with Japan,” Teodoro said in an interview at Camp Aguinaldo.
Teodoro could not yet provide a definite timetable as to when the RAA would be signed but he encouraged Lorenzo’s team to work with the Senate.
“I encourage them to thresh out all issues as soon as possible and of course to already network with the Senate of the Philippines so that we can have a speedy ratification of the same,” he said,
The Senate needs to ratify the treaty, and Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri expressed confidence that the majority of the senators would favor the RAA.
With 24 members in the Senate, the RAA at least needs 16 affirmative votes, as the 1987 Constitution provides that no treaty will be valid or deemed effective “unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the Members of the Senate”.
The RAA enables a mechanism for shared military training and operations and larger joint exercises between two countries.
To date, the Philippines has an existing visiting forces agreement with the United States and Australia.