Palace won't accept lopsided defense deal with US

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 06 2014 09:19 PM | Updated as of Mar 07 2014 05:19 AM

MANILA - Malacanang said the government will not agree to a lopsided deal with the United States on an expanded rotational presence agreement of American troops in the Philippines.

Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma made this assurance amid reports the US wants exclusive jurisdiction over its troops while they are accessing facilities here in the Philippines under the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation.

"The current negotiations will build upon existing agreements such as the Mutual Defense Treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement. As these agreements have been in existence for a number of years, both countries are aware of the challenges in implementation. Hence, both panels will consider how to frame the proposed agreement in such a way that those challenges will be addressed adequately," he said.

Coloma said the Philippines has learned from previous experiences.

“Ayon nga sa sinabi rin ng Pangulo sa mga nakaraang talakayan natin, talagang hinihimay yung mga detalye kasi doon nagkakatalo kapag na-implement na yung kasunduan. Kaya pinapansin yung mga detalye dahil yan ang magiging batayan sa implementasyon."

He could not say yet if the agreement will be discussed when President Obama arrives in the country next month.

"The visit itself is a separate activity from the negotiations on the [rotational] presence,” he said.