U.S. TO HELP PHL IN EVENT OF CHINA INVASION

Washington is ready to help Manila in the event that Beijing invades Pag-Asa, the second largest island in the disputed Spratly Islands, a top US military official said Thursday. Adm. Jonathan Greenert, naval operations chief of the US Navy, could not say what form of assistance may be extended to the Philippines but noted that the two countries have existing defense treaties. “Of course we would help you and now I don’t know what that help would be (given) specifically,” Greenert told students of the National Defense College of the Philippines in Quezon City. “I mean we have an obligation because we have a treaty, but I don’t know into what capacity that help is,” he added. Greenert was asked whether the US will help the Philippines defend its territory if China seizes Pag-Asa, which is being occupied by Filipino soldiers and more than 200 civilians. A Chinese news network has reported that the Chinese Navy has a detailed plan to seize the Pag-Asa Island from the Philippines this year.

ALSO: PNoy denies deal on US presence already sealed

President Aquino on Friday said that he is not sure if President Barack Obama will be signing the new agreement with the Philippines on the increased rotation presence of US troops. Quashing rumors that the deal has been sealed behind closed doors, Aquino said both camps are still in the process of crafting some provisions. "Hindi pa tapos, meron pa ring mga meetings na ginaganap lahat ng detalye nitong rotational presence to meet our needs, and the Americans' needs," Aquino said in a televised press briefing with reporters. Aquino also revealed that both panels of negotiators from the Philippines and the United States want to fast track the talks and be in accord regarding the extent of the military forces' enhanced cooperation in the country. The fifth round of negotiations, which started last August, was concluded earlier this month amid the Philippines' diplomatic rift with China on the opposing maritime claims in the West Philippine Sea. Aquino echoed the Philippine panel's statement on its stance in stressing the country's key fundamental principles such as on sovereignty and other interests. "Masasabi nating may mga nuances na nasa batas natin, nasa batas nila. Yung principles na we want to uphold klaro yung details. Sabi nga nila the devil is in the details, so yung details kailangan pang plantsahin," the president said.

ALSO: Phl, US conclude new round of talks on American troops' presence

The fifth round of the talks on the increased rotational presence of American troops in the
country ended last week with officials claiming that a “common understanding on key issues” has been achieved. However, the government, which vowed to be transparent on the negotiations, did not provide specific details in the statement it issued to the media. “The Philippines and the United States negotiating panels successfully concluded the fifth round of negotiations on enhanced defense cooperation here with both sides arriving at common understanding on key issues such as security and related topics while clarifying their respective views on other matters,” the statement read. The statement, which was released Wednesday afternoon, merely contained generalities that negotiators have been talking about since the talks started last August. “The Philippines and the United States negotiating panels reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing their cooperation in the security and related fields, particularly in humanitarian assistance and disaster response,” it read. The statement went on to reiterate the much-repeated line that the agreement must be guided by international legal instruments like the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement and consistent with the constitution and existing laws. Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino, chairman of the Philippine negotiating panel, described the negotiations as "candid yet friendly." He said the key fundamental principles on Philippine sovereignty and interests were "fully articulated and amplified." The Philippines and the US negotiators have conducted five rounds of negotiations since August.


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US to help Phl in event of China invasion


In this April 2, 2013 file photo, United States Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C.. US State Dept.

MANILA, FEBRUARY 17, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Alexis Romero - Washington is ready to help Manila in the event that Beijing invades Pag-Asa, the second largest island in the disputed Spratly Islands, a top US military official said Thursday.

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, naval operations chief of the US Navy, could not say what form of assistance may be extended to the Philippines but noted that the two countries have existing defense treaties.

“Of course we would help you and now I don’t know what that help would be (given) specifically,” Greenert told students of the National Defense College of the Philippines in Quezon City.

“I mean we have an obligation because we have a treaty, but I don’t know into what capacity that help is,” he added.

Greenert was asked whether the US will help the Philippines defend its territory if China seizes Pag-Asa, which is being occupied by Filipino soldiers and more than 200 civilians.

A Chinese news network has reported that the Chinese Navy has a detailed plan to seize the Pag-Asa Island from the Philippines this year.

Pag-Asa, which China calls Zhongye, is part of Kalayaan Island, a fifth class municipality in Palawan. The Philippines has built a town hall, a 1.3-kilometer airstrip, a naval station, a health center and a kindergarten school in the island.

Greenert said aggressive acts that violate international norms should be opposed.

“We will continue to say that aggressive behavior outside of international norms, not using the established procedures… is contrary to, I'll call it, good order here and we have to manage, we oppose it, we will work to clarify that,” he said.

The Philippines and the US signed the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, which provides that the two countries, separately or jointly, will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacities to resist armed attacks.

China has been flexing its muscles in the West Philippine Sea, conducting maritime patrols in disputed areas to assert its territorial claims.

It has also declared an air defense zone above waters separating China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, raising concerns from various countries who believe this would affect freedom of flight in international airspace.

In January, Chinese media reported that Beijing is imposing a fishing law in the West Philippine Sea that will require foreign boats to seek permission before operating in the area.

Japanese media also reported that China is planning to impose an air defense zone over the West Philippine Sea but this has been denied by the Chinese government.

China, whose recent actions are causing tensions in the region, is claiming almost the entire West Philippine Sea through its so-called nine-dash line, which covers more than 100 islets, atolls and reefs. Its claims also overlap with those of the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei and Vietnam.

US

Meanwhile, the US is sending its newest military assets to the region as part of its rebalancing to the Asia Pacific.

Greenert said they would increase the number of US ships in the region to 60 by 2020.

“For the last 20 years, we have had at at least 50 ships at any given day here in the Western Pacific…Actually, it will grow toward 60 ships by the end of this decade,” the US military official said.

“This is all part of our, what we called rebalance, the rebalance to the Asia Pacific. It’s not just ships, it’s not just airplanes, it’s about tough process. It’s about intellectual capacity. It’s about sitting down with our partners,” he added.

Greenert said among the assets to be deployed is the P8, which is a Boeing 737- 800 battle aircraft.

“We got fancy cameras, fancy infrared, fancy motion detectors, and a lot of established aircraft capability on a general craft,” he said.

Also to be deployed are littoral combat ships LCS 10 and LCS 3, which will sail towards the Western Pacific waters this year.

“Our presence here is not as much about balancing power as much as ensuring or trying to assure our partners and our allies that were all in this together and ensue that we have freedom of navigation,” Greenert said.

“We’ve been in this region a long time, and we all know that. We’ve been partners for decades and we will be here for a long time.”

In 2012, the US bared plans to deploy majority of its naval fleet to the Pacific by 2020.

US naval assets would be realigned from a roughly 50-50 split between the Pacific and the Atlantic to about 60-40 split between those oceans.

PNoy denies deal on US presence already sealed By Camille Diola (philstar.com) | Updated February 14, 2014 - 3:14pm 3 40 googleplus0 0


In this February 7, 2014 photo, President Benigno S. Aquino III, accompanied by outgoing Army Chief Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes, inspects the troops during the change of command ceremony of the Philippine Army, and the testimonial review in honor of Lieutenant General Noel Abrigo Coballes. Official Gazette


MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino on Friday said that he is not sure if President Barack Obama will be signing the new agreement with the Philippines on the increased rotation presence of US troops.

Quashing rumors that the deal has been sealed behind closed doors, Aquino said both camps are still in the process of crafting some provisions.

"Hindi pa tapos, meron pa ring mga meetings na ginaganap lahat ng detalye nitong rotational presence to meet our needs, and the Americans' needs," Aquino said in a televised press briefing with reporters.

Aquino also revealed that both panels of negotiators from the Philippines and the United States want to fast track the talks and be in accord regarding the extent of the military forces' enhanced cooperation in the country.

The fifth round of negotiations, which started last August, was concluded earlier this month amid the Philippines' diplomatic rift with China on the opposing maritime claims in the West Philippine Sea.

Aquino echoed the Philippine panel's statement on its stance in stressing the country's key fundamental principles such as on sovereignty and other interests.

"Masasabi nating may mga nuances na nasa batas natin, nasa batas nila. Yung principles na we want to uphold klaro yung details. Sabi nga nila the devil is in the details, so yung details kailangan pang plantsahin," the president said.

Pio Lorenzo Batino, chair of the Philippine Negotiating Panel, meanwhile said that the negotiators will ensure the "non-permanence of US troops and no US basing in the Philippines, mutuality of benefits and respect for the Philippine Constitution, including the prohibition against nuclear weapons."

Aquino is set to meet with Obama during the US president's visit to Manila in April. The two leaders are expected to discuss the Philippines' territorial row with China.

Observers have said that Obama's trip may push for the quick resolution of the defense talks.

Phl, US conclude new round of talks on American troops' presence By Alexis Romero (philstar.com) | Updated February 5, 2014 - 7:57pm 3 127 googleplus0 1


TALKS RESUME. Philippines and US panels resume negotiations to allow increased rotational presence of American troops in the Philippines. DND file photo. POSTED ON 12/04/2013 11:08 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The fifth round of the talks on the increased rotational presence of American troops in the country ended last week with officials claiming that a “common understanding on key issues” has been achieved.

However, the government, which vowed to be transparent on the negotiations, did not provide specific details in the statement it issued to the media.

“The Philippines and the United States negotiating panels successfully concluded the fifth round of negotiations on enhanced defense cooperation here with both sides arriving at common understanding on key issues such as security and related topics while clarifying their respective views on other matters,” the statement read.

The statement, which was released Wednesday afternoon, merely contained generalities that negotiators have been talking about since the talks started last August.

“The Philippines and the United States negotiating panels reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing their cooperation in the security and related fields, particularly in humanitarian assistance and disaster response,” it read.

The statement went on to reiterate the much-repeated line that the agreement must be guided by international legal instruments like the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement and consistent with the constitution and existing laws.

Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino, chairman of the Philippine negotiating panel, described the negotiations as "candid yet friendly."

He said the key fundamental principles on Philippine sovereignty and interests were "fully articulated and amplified."

The Philippines and the US negotiators have conducted five rounds of negotiations since August.

In November, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin admitted that the talks on the increased rotational presence have hit an impasse due to the failure of the two panels to reach a deal on temporary US facilities to be set up in the country.

Despite the issues stalling the talks, the Philippine panel remains optimistic about the prospects of the negotiations.

The Philippines and the US have adopted the policy on increased rotational presence amid efforts by China to enhance its presence in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The agreement with the US was supposed to enable the Philippines to achieve a “minimum credible defense.”

Officials have given assurances that the agreement would not violate existing laws and would not lead to the establishment of permanent US bases.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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