• Senators open to giving US troops bases access

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    SOME Senators have no objection to the Aquino administration’s plan to grant American and Japanese troops access to the country’s air and naval facilities as long as it doesn’t go beyond the scope of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

    Sen. Gregorio Honasan said he is open to the idea of increasing the presence of foreign military allies in the country.

    “Until such time that we can defend ourselves or can stand on our own when it comes to military capability, the idea of allowing our allies access to our facilities is acceptable,” Honasan, a former Army officer, said.

    Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin last week announced that an agreement with the United States that will allow US troops access to Philippine military facilities, specifically Subic and Clark bases, is being studied.

    Gazmin said the same agreement may also be applied to Japanese forces.

    Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on foreign relations, said US forces can use Philippine military facilities as long as it is within the scope of the VFA.

    “The VFA will continue to be enforced to ensure that US military presence remains within the bounds of the VFA framework. The same is true with Australia where we have an existing Status of Visiting Forces Agreement, which has already been ratified by the Senate,” Legarda said.

    Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th, said he must first look at the details of the proposal before supporting it.

    Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile earlier said that if access means allowing foreign troops to resupply or temporarily stay, he will not object. But he added that allowing them to set up a facility for their refueling needs or for ammunition storage would be a violation of the Constitution.

    WITH A REPORT FROM WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL

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