PH, US advance in defense talks

Posted at 03/10/14 3:00 PM

MANILA - The Philippines and the United States have made "significant progress"on negotiations to deepen defense ties between the two nations.

The Department of National Defense (DND) said the Philippine panel was able to push provisions on environment and safety, and opportunities for potential Philippine suppliers of goods, products and services.

The two panels met in Washington D.C. last week to discuss the proposed agreement, which will allow the sharing of defined areas in the Philippines with American troops.

The meeting was also described as “substantive and productive.”

"This fresh round has clearly shown the shared commitment of both parties to enhance cooperation in defense, security and related fields, including humanitarian assistance and disaster response. The further exchanges of views have helped pave the way for the formulation of mutually agreeable language," said Department of National Defense Undersecretary and Chair of the Philippine Negotiating Panel Pio Lorenzo Batino.

Both panels reached consensus on many provisions, including on the proposed accord's preamble, purpose and scope, definition of terms, ownership of constructed infrastructure, coordination on security, contracting procedures, and resolution of disputes.

Batino stressed the Philippine panel has been guided by the “principles of full respect for Philippine sovereignty, non-permanence of US troops and no US basing in the Philippines, mutuality of benefits and respect for the Philippine Constitution, including the prohibition against nuclear weapons."

Both sides will again meet in Manila later this month.

Malacanang is unsure if the deal will be ready for signing when US President Barack Obama arrives in April.