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Drilon: No to permanent presence of US troops

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Philippine chief government negotiator Carlos Sorreta (L) speaks next to Pio Lorenzo Batino, Philippine Department of National Defense, Undersecretary for Legal and Legislative Affairs and Strategic Concerns during a news conference at the military headquarters in Quezon city, metro Manila August 15, 2013. The United States has formally asked for greater access to civilian and military facilities in the Philippines to deploy aircraft, ships, troops and equipment in a first round of talks on a new security deal, Philippine officials said on Thursday. (MNS photo)

Philippine chief government negotiator Carlos Sorreta (L) speaks next to Pio Lorenzo Batino, Philippine Department of National Defense, Undersecretary for Legal and Legislative Affairs and Strategic Concerns during a news conference at the military headquarters in Quezon city, metro Manila August 15, 2013. The United States has formally asked for greater access to civilian and military facilities in the Philippines to deploy aircraft, ships, troops and equipment in a first round of talks on a new security deal, Philippine officials said on Thursday. (MNS photo)

MANILA  (Mabuhay) — Senate President Franklin Drilon on Friday told the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Department of National Defense (DND) to ensure that permanent presence will not be given to US troops.

Drilon also reiterated that negotiations for increased rotational presence of American troops in the country should be in line with the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

He also called on the DFA and DND to brief the Senate on the outcome of initial talks between the Philippines and United States, and ensure transparency.

“There was not part in the VFA that allows permanent basing. The framework agreement should be in accordance with the restrictions set forth under the VFA,” he said.

Drilon said that he would scrutinize every detail of the agreement to make sure that it will not infringe on the Constitution.

“The devil is in the details. As a senator, it is my obligation to our people to ensure that any agreement the government will enter into is legal and in accordance with our Constitution. I will examine the outcome of the negotiations to see to it that it will not infringe on the lives of our people and their guaranteed rights.”

Nonetheless, Drilon assured the two departments of the Senate’s cooperation in the government’s resolve to bolster its defense and security capabilities.

“The Senate can be counted upon as an active partner in the diplomatic and national defense concerns our nation, in the context and within the confines of our Constitution, laws, and treaty obligations,” he said. (MNS)

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