'US-Philippine military talks to protect mutual interests'
MANILA – "Let them talk."
This was the response of US Ambassador Philip Goldberg when asked about how the negotiations between the Philippines and US are going so far.
The Philippines and the US are engaged in another round of negotiations on an enhanced military partnership between the two countries.
If the negotiations succeed, the US will have a wider access to Philippine military bases.
During the US Embassy's "Kapihan sa Emabahada" Tuesday afternoon, Goldberg said he has talked to US representatives after the first day of negotiations at Camp Aguinaldo ended.
However, the ambassador said the results of the negotiations must be kept private.
"I did talk with the negotiators last night after the first day [of negotiations]. But let them do their thing and let them talk about the things that they need to talk about."
Goldberg said that the primary aim of the enhanced military partnership is to protect the two countries' shared interests.
He added that the US has been a strong ally of the Philippines over the years.
"We have been working very closely with the Philippine military for many months including the counter-terrorism front, as you know, over the last decade. We [have to] protect some of the interests that we [the US and the Philippines] have talked about [including] the freedom of the sea and the air."
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda last week said that the partnership will benefit the Philippines as it would help the country improve its defense.
"The reason why it helps is because there is some technology transfer, there’s knowledge sharing between the American forces and Philippine forces when they conduct military exercises."
"It improves the quality of the Philippines in terms of preparedness," Lacierda said.
Goldberg, meanwhile, said he is aware that there are certain groups in the country that strongly oppose the proposed agreement between the US and the Philippines.
However, he said these groups have every right to voice out their sentiments.
"In terms of the groups that may oppose this, that is their democratic right," he said.
The ambassador still remains hopeful that these groups would take into consideration the benefits both countries may gain from the partnership. --with The Philippine Star