• Let China interpret framework agreement on increased presence of US troops in PH: Palace

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    What message is the Philippines sending out to China as it continues to settle on a Philippines-US defense treaty on increased presence of US troops in the country?

    “Well, let China interpret that particular… We don’t need to send a message I suppose. The medium is the message,” said Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda in a Palace briefing on Monday.

    It can be recalled that Philippine defense officials have considered increasing US presence to achieve a minimum credible defense, particularly with the aggressive posturing of China in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

    Lacierda said the rotational presence of US troops would certainly help the country as it “improves the quality of the Philippines in terms of preparedness.”

    “…The reason why it (PHL-US mutual defense treaty) helps is because there’s some technology transfer, there’s knowledge sharing between the American forces and the Philippine forces when they do conduct military exercises,” he said.

    He also emphasized that a part of the rotational presence is focusing on disaster preparedness and disaster reduction.

    “That’s one of the big improvements especially when it comes to increased rotational presence where we saw the involvement of the American military when typhoon ‘Yolanda’ hit Central Visayas,” said Lacierda.

    At present, the Philippines and the US continue to “thresh out the language” on the defense treaty that would allow greater US military presence in the country.

    The guidance of President Benigno S. Aquino III to the panel is to make sure that everything discussed conforms with the 1987 Constitution and is under the framework of the existing Visiting Forces Agreement. PNA

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