MANILA – The recent statement of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) regarding the proposed increased US military presence in the Philippines tends to undermine the latter's interests, a political analyst said Tuesday.
For Ramon Casiple, Institute for Political and Electoral Reform executive director, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario's pronouncement undermines the Philippine position, especially that a negotiation is ongoing and an agreement has yet to be resolved due to some differences in positions.
Del Rosario on Monday said the US contribution in the relief efforts for the victims of super typhoon "Yolanda" highlights the need for a framework agreement for a deal that would allow wider and more prolonged access for the US military bases and other facilities in its former colony.
"It accentuates one of the main purposes of the framework agreement, which is to make humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and response a very major aspect of the agreement," del Rosario said.
Last month, after four meetings, the talks stalled over legal and constitutional issues. Both sides, however, are committed to concluding a deal, a boost to the foreign policy of President Barack Obama's administration focusing on Asia and the Pacific.
"America wants this (increased US military rotational presence) so it's premature for the DFA to release such a statement considering that negotiations are ongoing. It's like laying down all your cards on the table," Casiple told dzMM.
Casiple said the government must make sure that the agreement will be within the bounds of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which does not allow permanent bases here.
He added it is important for the agreement not to give US troops immunity from Philippine laws.
Militant group Karapatan also lambasted del Rosario's statement.
“The cat then is out of the bag—the so-called humanitarian assistance by US troops in the disaster areas is a justification for their permanent basing and operation in the Philippines. Even without this disaster, the US was pushing for an increased and permanent presence of their troops and warships in the Philippines for its Asian pivot," Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said.
Labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno chairperson Elmer Labog, meanwhile, said: "The US has always tried to portray itself as a friend of Filipinos whenever it tries to justify its military presence in the country. Using the devastation caused by Yolanda in order to expand its military presence in the Philippines is not friendship, but swindle of the most unkind type." - with Reuters