Malacanang said on Saturday the Philippines and the United States are currently threshing out the language on the framework agreement that would allow greater US military presence in the country.
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).
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan that according to Defense Undersecretary Pio Batino, the sixth round of their discussions had been productive.
“They are threshing out the language… According to Undersecretary Batino, productive po ‘yung sixth round ng kanilang mga pag-uusap,” Valte said.
“They were able to hammer out a few details on certain issues at handa rin po sila to move forward again,” she added.
When asked if the agreement would be finalized before the visit of US President Barack Obama in April, Valte said it is ideal if it could happen, but maintained that ironing out all details is more important.
“Parang ang punto po ng ating panel, kung maayos po before the visit of President Obama, okay din po ‘yon; ngunit kung hindi, ang importante po ay maplantsa po lahat ng detalye,” she added.
Valte noted that the guidance of President Benigno Aquino 3rd to the panel is to make sure that everything that is being discussed and that is being agreed upon conforms with the 1987 Constitution and is under the framework of the existing Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
She added that the challenge is to make sure there are no gray areas in the agreement. PNA