Palace still mum on Obama visit

Posted at 04/04/2014 3:15 PM

MANILA -- Malacañang is still mum on the details of US President Barack Obama's visit to the Philippines.

The Philippine Star has reported Obama will be in the country from April 27 to 28, citing an unnamed Palace source.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda did not dispute the report, but left it to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to give out details.

"The normal protocol is for the Department of Foreign Affairs to announce it. So, we would rather the DFA to announce it. We will wait for an announcement from them," he said.

There is also no official word yet on the details of the visit on any one of the websites of the White House or the US State Department.

Nonetheless, Lacierda gave a hint of what awaits Obama.

"Well, normally you would have a, of course, the arrival honors for the President; and also there will be a bilateral discussion. That will be the discussion -- the basic," he said.

Meanwhile, there is also no assurance yet that the proposed increased rotational presence agreement (IRPA) between the US and Philippines will be finalized and signed in time for the trip.

The IRPA aims to give US forces greater access to Philippine military bases. This is in addition to the existing Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement.

"That is not... That is still subject of discussion. We don't know if all the kinks have been ironed out. But we will leave it with the both panels. Insofar as the Philippines is concerned, they are still in discussions with the US panels. So, whether it will reach the visit is not something that we are aware of. The discussion is ongoing. I mean, the discussion on IRP [increased rotational presence] is ongoing. In the realm of possibilities, it is easy to say yes or no. But it is better for us to have a more -- better for us to be informed as to the status of the discussions," Lacierda said.

The negotiations for the IRP comes amid rising tensions between the Philippines and China over the West Philippine Sea (South China sea).

China has staked its claim over some areas in the West Philippine Sea, which is within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.