29 April 2011

'No discussion on increased US military assistance in PHL'

MALACAÑANG said on Thursday there was no discussion on the increase of US military assistance in the country during the recent visit of two US senators.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that when they met with President Aquino, US Sens. Daniel Inouye and Thad Cochran did not discuss anything “political” with the Chief Executive.

“[There was] nothing political, they did not discuss Subic, so it’s really surprising that the issue of Subic or establishing a military base cropped up. There was no such discussion,” Lacierda said.

He said the senators also discussed with the President the Save Our Industries (SAVE) Act, which is being backed by Inouye.

“That’s what was it all about. Other than that, no more,” Lacierda said.

Asked about Malacañang’s position on increased military presence, Lacierda told reporters that the Visiting Forces Agreement is being reviewed.

Sen. Sergio Osmeña III at the same time vowed to resist incipient attempts to bring back American military bases in the country, amid reports this was part of the “hush-hush” agenda of two ranking US officials who visited the country recently.

“Yes. I will oppose it,” Osmeña told reporters at the sidelines of the Kapihan sa Senado media forum yesterday.

Osmeña observed that the Philippines and the US have enjoyed “excellent relations” despite a 1992 Philippine Senate vote terminating the lease on American military facilities. “So, why do we need to host their bases here [again]?”

He added that the Philippines would not want to get caught in a conflict between the US and China. “We do not want to get involved in the fight between two giants. Uupakan lang tayo dalawang elepante diyan.”

He sought a reasonable justification for the Philippines to allow the return of American military presence. (B. Fernandez, K. Corro, Business Mirror)