• Palace wants to hear senators’ side on bases access plan

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    Malacanang said it is open to having discussions with some senators who said the planned bases access agreement with the US may be in violation of the Constitution.

    Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Aquino administration is willing to discuss the issue with the senators while the defense department explores the possibility of allowing the US to temporarily station its forces in their previous bases in the country, according to a Palace news release on Saturday.

    “Of course, we are open to their concerns. We also understand their concerns and which is why we are open to having these discussions,” Valte said during a radio interview on Saturday.

    Valte said the defense department has been studying different options on the rotational presence of American troops in the country in the midst of China’s incursions in Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea.

    “Whatever comes out of the studies, they are all in keeping with our Constitution the Visiting Forces Agreement,” Valte said.

    Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the Philippines is ready to provide the US and other strategic allies like Japan access to its bases to counter China’s aggressive activities in the region.

    But Gazmin clarified that there is no plan to build new bases in the country because the Constitution prohibits it.

    The access agreement was discussed by the Philippines and the US during a ministerial consultation in Washington last year, he said.

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