On the Phil-US negotiations on increased rotational presence

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin at the presser on negotiations for increased rotational presence of US troops in the country.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the “increased rotational presence” was a policy agreed on two years ago. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said “high-value and high impact exercises” will serve as the “modality” for the increased presence of US troops in the country.

Negotiations began yesterday, August 14, between the Philippine and US governments regarding “increased rotational presence” of US troops in the Philippines. Exactly what that means is something that has yet to be 1) made clear and 2) negotiated, if one goes by what members of the Philippine panel said in their press conference last Monday, Aug. 12.

This much was clear: the “increased rotational presence” was a policy agreed on about two years ago; high-value and high impact exercises will serve as a “modality” for this increased rotational presence; and an agreement is needed to “institutionalize” this policy.

This is a transcript of the press conference last Monday. I will post later (when I figure out how) an audio record of the presser itself, so readers can check if there errors or inaccuracies in the transcript (there were some words I couldn’t hear clearly, especially towards the end).

The panel members are: Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino; Defense Assistant Secretary Raymund Jose Quilop; Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Carlos Sorreta; and Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III. Continue reading

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