MANILA, Philippines – Any arrangement that the Philippines may enter into with the US regarding more troop deployment to the country must remain within the bounds of the Philippines-US Visiting Forces Agreement and the Philippine Constitution, a Palace official said on Thursday, February 16.
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda made the statement in response to the pronouncement of US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that the US is in talks with the Philippines regarding the possible movement of some of its Marines from Okinawa in Japan to the Philippines.
“Secretary [Voltaire] Gazmin in his discussion with the defense and state officials of the US government has always maintained that any activity involving US soldiers will be based and done in accordance with the Visiting Forces Agreement and the 1987 Constitution,” Lacierda said.
He stressed, “Just to categorically state it, there will be no basing of US troops [in the Philippines].”
The US is moving 8,000 of its Marines from its Okinawa base–4,700 to Guam, and the remaining 3,300 to other parts of the Asia-Pacific on a rotational basis.
Asked whether the Philippines is open to the US plan, Lacierda reiterated that “any arrangement will be in accordance with the VFA and the 1987 Constitution,” he said. – Rappler.com