Replacement of Pinoy in negotiating panel normal - Goldberg

by Pia Lee Brago, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 02 2014 11:04 AM | Updated as of Mar 02 2014 07:04 PM

MANILA - The replacement of a member of the Philippine panel negotiating with the United States on the increased rotational presence agreement was not due to lack of progress in the talks, US Ambassador Philip Goldberg said yesterday.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has named Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia J. Eduardo Malaya and Ambassador to Austria Lourdes Yparraguirre to the panel to give a fresh perspective in the negotiations.

Malaya and Yparraguirre replaced Carlos Sorreta, former DFA Assistant Secretary for American Affairs.

“No, it’s not for lack of progress at all. It’s a normal, natural part of the negotiation to discuss what the various terms are and that’s what we are doing. We’re hopeful that it will be concluded soon as President Aquino said and as we said also,” Goldberg told reporters after he led the opening of “America in 3D” Roadshow at the SM Mall of Asia.

According to sources, Malaya and Yparraguirre were asked to assist in the negotiation “given their familiarity with the issue and their previous capacities at the DFA.”

Prior to his appointment as ambassador to Kuala Lumpur, Malaya was DFA spokesman and Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs.

Yparraguirre, on the other hand, served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the Philippine embassy in Washington and Assistant Secretary for American Affairs.

“We want to conclude the agreement as quickly as possible. The US and the Philippines made a commitment to try to get it done so it’s just a natural part of the negotiation, but you want to make sure that what’s arranged is for the mutual benefit of both countries and that’s what we’re doing now,” Goldberg said.

Under the agreement, the presence of US forces in Philippine territory will be increased on a rotational basis toward the development of a minimum credible defense posture.

The next round of negotiations will be held in Washington.