Malacanang maintains there are no plans for American military bases in the country

January 27, 2012 10:54 pm 

MANILA, Jan. 27 — The Philippines and the United States will hold joint military drills to improve the defense capabilities of the two countries, but there are no plans to reestablish vast American military bases in the country, a Malacanang official said on Friday.

During the regular press briefing in the Palace on Friday, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) Secretary Ramon Carandang said there are no discussions on bringing back U.S. military bases in the country.

"None of these initiatives involve any kind of basing arrangements similar to what we had prior to 1991. Hindi po tayo nag-iisip na magbalik ng U.S. bases similar to Subic and Clark prior to 1991. What we’re really looking at is to enhance our defense cooperation," Carandang said.

The exercises aim to improve RP-US combined planning, combat readiness, and interoperability and enhance security relations to respond to threats that include terrorists, pirates and smugglers, or dealing with natural disasters.

Carandang averred that they are still in the process of detailed planning to ensure the success of the scheduled military exercises called the 2012 Balikatan.

"The Aquino administration, since it came into office, has been working very hard to enhance our defense capabilities, particularly our maritime capabilities. We’re doing this in cooperation not just with the United States, but also with Australia and other Asian neighbors. So that’s part and parcel of our efforts to enhance our defense capabilities," he said.

The Balikatan or "shoulder-to-shoulder" exercises have mostly been done around northern Luzon in the past years. For this year, the Philippines and the U.S. are planning to hold the joint military exercises in Palawan.

The Balikatan is an annual RP-US bilateral military humanitarian assistance and training exercise under the auspices of the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement.

Carandang assured that the exercises will be held within the undisputed Philippine territory.

The Philippine Senate voted in 1991 to close U.S. military bases in the country. (PNA)

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