US, PHL mutual defense board set to meet in October

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Friday, May 16, 2014


THE Philippine-United States Mutual Defense Board is due to meet in October to identify Philippine military facilities, which can be accessed by US forces under the recently-signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

Interviewed in Camp Aguinaldo after the end of this year's Balikatan exercise, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Emmanuel Bautista said nothing is definite yet as to the areas where the Americans can put up facilities and preposition assets.

"We work through the MDB, the Mutual Defense Board. The details of that will be discussed in the Mutual Defense Board and there is a routine for the Mutual Defense Board meetings, a total of three meetings a year so we'll see," said Bautista.

The Mutual Defense Board was created to oversee the implementation of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty. The board is co-chaired by the AFP chief and the commander of the US Pacific Command (Adm. Samuel Locklear).

"The board proper meets sometime in September, October. Thats the board proper. Before that, there is an executive committee meeting and a standing committee meeting and we will wait for the (meetings)," said Bautista.

Bautista earlier said he wants at least three Philippine military facilities opened for the use of the American forces, including Fort Magsasay, home of the Army's Special Operations Command and 7th Infantry Division.

The other areas are Navy facilities in Oyster Bay in Palawan and Fort San Miguel in Zambales, both fronting the disputed areas in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea.

Bautista clarified that the three areas he mentioned were only his preference. "There is a process for that (identification of the areas). Its my personal (preference)," said Bautista of the three areas.

Bautista said it is not for him to decide on the areas.

"There is a process to determine the bases that will be offered and there is an approval process on that, and that will be discussed by the MDB," he added.

"That is going to be discussed in the MDB so there is nothing definite yet until the MDB (meeting) happens," said Bautista.

Asked when they can complete the list of areas, Bautista said: "EDCA was already signed so we hope we can make it happen soonest..I cannot say that there will be a list by October. The next Mutual Defense Board meeting is in October."

Bautista said the three areas which he prefers to be accessed by the Americans "are good bases that can be developed. There is room for development in these bases." (VR/Sunnex)

Local news

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