US may use PH bases if it will benefit both nations—DFA
MANILA, Philippines — The United States will only be allowed to use Philippine bases if it will be “mutually beneficial” for both countries, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday.
“The Philippines will only allow the use of its facilities provided it is mutually beneficial for both parties and in accordance with the Philippine constitution and our laws,” DFA spokesman Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez told reporters in a press briefing Monday.
Citing Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Hernandez said that the US and the Philippines “continue to talk about the modalities and the parameters for increased rotational presence of US forces.”
Gazmin previously stated that no new bases will be constructed in the Philippines, instead, the US and other allies will be allowed access to present facilities. Foreign military bases are banned under the 1987 constitution.
The US and the Philippines have conducted joint naval exercises several times in the country, the most recent of which is a five-day naval exercise off Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“Most of the activities now that we have with the US fall under the Mutual Defense Forces treaty that we have and the visiting forces agreement,” Hernandez said.
China has recently become more aggressive in asserting its claim over the West Philippine Sea and has increased its presence with fishing vessels escorted by naval and law enforcement ships.
The US on the other hand, is set to implement its “pivot” to Asia through the reassignment of 60 percent of its naval fleet in the region.
“What is important is whatever policy we are able to negotiate with the US, it should be mutually beneficial for both the Philippines and the US, and that it is in accordance with our laws, specifically with our Constitution,” Hernandez said.