WATCH: Pia Wurtzbach defends answer on US military presence in PH

MANILA, Philippines – During her homecoming press conference on Sunday, January 24, Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach addressed those who criticized her answer during the pageant's first question and answer portion. (READ: Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach arrives in Manila)

Pia first explained why she thought so many people disagreed with her answer, saying that it's a very different experience to sit at home and think of an answer, as opposed to being on stage. (READ: 5 Miss Universe questions: Terror, drugs, foreign policy)

She then said: "From what I understand, military presence is different from military bases. Military presence, to me, sounds like aid. Military help, security. So it doesn't sound negative at all. So that's why I actually stick with my answer."

Pia added that she's open to a conversation on the topic as well, saying, "Although if some people feel very strongly that they're against it, I respect their opinion, and then if they ever want to talk to me about their stand on it, I would gladly listen."

During the Miss Universe 2015 coronation night, Pia was asked, "Earlier this year there was a controversy in the Philippines about the United States reopening a military base in your country. Do you think the US should have a military presence in your country?"

Pia said: "I think that the United States and the Philippines have always had a good relationship with each other. We were colonized by the Americans and we have their culture in our traditions even up to this day, and I think we are very welcoming with the Americans, and I don't see any problem with that at all." 

Filipino activists and politicians criticized her answer, and took it to mean that she was in favor of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which would give American troops access to Philippine military bases. (READ: Pro-US bases? Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach should get a briefing, say activists)

Among the critics were Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño, who said: “She could have at least acknowledged that there are problems that have to be addressed re: US bases in PH. Pag-uwi ni Pia (When Pia returns) she should be briefed by Gabriela on the issue of US troops in PH to help her get a better perspective.”

Meanwhile, presidential aspirant Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said: "Congratulations, Pia! You are regal. But from what I've heard, we need to talk. See you!” Santiago is one of the senators who believe that the EDCA is unconstitutional and is a treaty that needs Senate ratification, but the Supreme Court recently ruled otherwise.

Pia returned home on January 23. Her itinerary includes courtesy calls to government offices, a parade, and a homecoming special on January 28 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. – Rappler.com

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