Palace: Pact with US to boost PHL preparedness amid sea row

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Monday, March 17, 2014

MALACANANG underscored Monday the benefits that the Philippines could get in sealing an agreement for an increased rotational presence of American forces in the country, especially now that Manila is engaged in a territorial dispute with Beijing.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the agreement, which will be buoyed on existing agreements with the US such as the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Defense Treaty, will certainly help the Philippines in terms of technology transfer and disaster response.

"Well, we have the Visiting Forces Agreement, which happened previously to any situation with China. Does this help in terms of the presence—the rotational presence of the Americans? Certainly, it would help," he said in a regular press briefing in Malacanang.

"And the reason why it helps is because there’s some technology transfer, there’s knowledge sharing between the American forces and the Philippine forces when they exercise—when they do conduct military exercises. It improves the quality of the Philippines in terms of preparedness," Lacierda said.

He also said that the agreement could also help the Philippines in times of disasters.

"And let me also emphasize that a part of this rotational presence is now focusing on disaster preparedness and disaster reduction,” he said.

The Philippine government sees a big improvement when it comes to increased rotational presence particularly when the American military sent its assets to the Central Visayas in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda.

The US sent ships, planes, helicopters and military vehicles to assist in transporting relief goods, supplies and equipment in the affected Visayas region.

Lacierda said the Palace believes that the new agreement does not need ratification of the Philippine Senate because an increased rotational presence pact with the US will be built on previous agreements already ratified by the Senate.

"It is an agreement that builds upon... or to be implemented based on the provisions of the Mutual Defense Treaty, as well as the Visiting Forces Agreement. Both agreements have been ratified by the Senate," Lacierda said.

"So in the view of the Executive branch, these are mainly provisions which implement both treaties that have already been previously ratified by the Senate," he said.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago earlier said that the new agreement with the US needs Senate's concurrence. (SDR/Sunnex)

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