• Lawmakers study plan to hike US presence

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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 Congress to allow the United States (US) military to increase rotational presence in the country.

    The joint letter signed by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said more American troops can shield the country from possible aggression particularly in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

    The two Cabinet secretaries stressed that the presence of US troops will help the country attain a “minimum credible defense”.

    “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 said in their letter to Congress.

    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 is needed before they can act on the request.

    Aside from this, Gonzales said the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US also needs to be reviewed before making any bold move.

    PNA

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