Malacanang on Monday reiterated that the United States assets carrying nuclear weapons would not be allowed to enter the Philippines under the new military agreement between the two nations.
Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said that the deal is in line with the Philippines’ constitution and would not allow the US military to bring nuclear weapons into the country.
“Again, we have been explicit and the panel is very cognizant of this, that whatever negotiations take place, any agreements reached will have to be under the ambit of the 1987 Constitution, as well as the existing framework of the MDT [Mutual Defense Treaty] as well as the VFA [Visiting Forces Agreement],” Valte said in a press conference.
Asked if US warships with nuclear capabilities will be banned in the country, Valte said, “You have to draw the distinction between nuclear-capable as those carrying nuclear weapons because the distinction is very obvious in the Constitution.”
“What I can tell you is that the explicit guidance of the President was to make sure that the agreement and the negotiations are conducted under—with strictest compliance with our existing laws,” she added
On Friday, the Philippines and United States panels have agreed on key points in the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
The draft agreement, which is anchored on mutuality of benefits, states that United States access to and use of Armed Forces of the Philippines’ facilities and areas will be “at the invitation of the Philippines and with full respect for the Philippine Constitution and Philippine laws.”
President Benigno Aquino 3rd earlier instructed the Philippine panel to comply with and stay within relevant provisions of the Philippine Constitution and laws.
In addition, in compliance with the Philippine Constitution, the agreement will also state the understanding of both sides for the United States “not to establish a permanent military presence or base in the territory of the Philippines.”
The proposed defense deal with the US will be submitted to the President for review.
The accord is also expected to be signed during US President Barack Obama’s visit to Manila at the end of the month. CATHERINE S. VALENTE