House leaders want deeper study on request to increase presence of US forces in PHL

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Leaders of the House of Representatives on Saturday said that they need to fully review the letter from the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) asking permission of the two houses of Congress to allow the US military to increase rotational presence in the country.

The joint letter signed by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said more American troops in the country can shield us against possible aggression particularly in PHL territory at the West Philippine Sea.

The two Cabinet secretaries stressed that the presence of US troops’ will help the country attain a “minimum credible defense” to guard our territory as the Philippines boosts its own military.

“The Philippines will shortly enter into consultations and negotiations with the United States on a possible framework agreement that would implement our agreed policy of increased rotational presence,” Gazmin and Del Rosario stated in their letter to Congress.

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The three House leaders, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Senior Deputy Speaker Giorgidi Aggabao and Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales 2nd, said they need to deeply study the request, a sensitive matter which “needs close scrutiny because we need to balance our position.”

Gonzales said that a review of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) is needed before they can act on the letter request and they need more opinion to study all its pros and cons.

Aside from this, Gonzales said the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States also needs to be reviewed before making any bold move.

Aggabao added we must revisit first the MDT to make very certain that any aggression against the Philippines would automatically trigger an immediate response from the US forces.

He added a deeper study is needed to avoid moves that may agitate our neighbors.

“It needs more burning of eyebrows before making final decisions on the letter request. This is no joke,” Agabao said. PNA

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