Philippines, US resume talks on American troops

By Alexis Romero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 06 2014 03:12 AM | Updated as of Mar 06 2014 11:12 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Talks on increased rotational presence of American troops between the Philippines and the US will resume today in Washington. The 6th round of negotiations will last for two days.

Officials did not reveal anything new about the talks, choosing instead to reiterate statements that they have been saying since negotiations started last August.

Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino, Philippine panel chairman, said they look forward to building on the substantive progress that they have achieved during the previous round of talks.

“The Philippine negotiating panel will continue to articulate and promote our national values and interests and will remain guided by the principles of full respect for Philippine sovereignty,” he said.

Other principles to be stressed are non-permanence of US troops, mutuality of benefits, respect for the Philippine Constitution, including prohibition against nuclear weapons and non-establishment of American bases, Batino said.

The sixth round will be held back-to-back with the Philippine-US Bilateral Strategic Dialogue on March 6-7 in Washington.

Officials believe shoring up US presence will allow the Philippines to achieve a minimum credible defense. The two countries have completed five rounds of negotiations since August.

Speculations are that the signing of the agreement would coincide with the Manila visit of US President Barack Obama in April.