US not seeking to build permanent bases in Philippines-A A +A
Friday, August 30, 2013
THE United States was not seeking to build permanent bases in the Philippines, visiting US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Friday.
Hagel, who arrived in Manila on Thursday for a two-day visit here, met with President Benigno Aquino III in Malacanang.
In a joint press conference with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin in Malacanang, Hagel said that building permanent bases would mean returning to an "outdated cold war mentality."
"The United States does not seek permanent bases in the Philippines," he said.
"Instead, we are using a new model of military to military cooperation befitting to great allies and friends, and looking to increase our rotational presence here, as we have done recently in Singapore and Australia," he said.
He said that such an arrangement would benefit both the Philippine and US military by increasing the ability to train and operate together.
"Deepening engagement opportunities between our forces will further support President Aquino's defense modernization agenda," Hagel said.
The Philippines and the US are currently discussing the mechanism on the framework agreement on the American forces' increased rotational presence in the country.
Gazmin said that the Philippines is willing to allow US forces to have access on the facilities in Subic, Zambales where the former American naval base was located.
"As soon as the framework agreement is complete, we will provide the necessary access to all these facilities; and this is not limited only to Subic but to Philippine military facilities, if necessary," he said.
Hagel said that the US has a "great deal of experience" in building a modern military and "we would like to share what we've learned with our Filipino allies."
Hagel also said that in his meeting with Aquino, they discussed the situation in the South China Sea or the West Philippine Sea, "an issue which the United States, our allies, partners and friends in this part of the world hope will be resolved peacefully and without coercion."
The Philippines is currently embroiled in a tense territorial row with China.
He said that the US supports Asean efforts to negotiate the South China Sea Code of Conduct, which will help peacefully manage disagreements and tensions arising from competing territorial and maritime claims.
He urged those countries engaged in the territorial disputes to peacefully resolve the issue through internationally accepted mechanism and in accordance with the international law, including the "Law of the Sea and without coercion or militarize attempts to alter the status quo."
"The United States appreciates the Philippines’ efforts to solve its dispute through peaceful means," he said.
The Philippines has brought up the territorial row with China before the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal.
Hagel said he also looks forward to US President Barack Obama's visit in Southeast Asia. The official did not mention if the Philippines was one of Obama's destinations.
The American Defense chief's visit in the Philippines coincided with the the 62nd anniversary of the signing of the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty on August 30, 1951.
The Philippines was Hagel's last leg of his second trip to Asia which also brought him to Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. (SDR/Sunnex)