ASIAN THINK-TANK URGE OBAMA 1-ON-1 MEET W/ AQUINO / 1-ON-1 MEET SET SEP 19

MANILA
, SEPTEMBER 13, 2011 (STAR) By Pia Lee-Brago - President Barack Obama should have a one-on-one meeting with President Aquino during the Philippine leader’s visit to Washington late this month, according to Washington think-tank Heritage Foundation.

Robert Warshaw, research assistant in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation, said that by increasing funding for its arms acquisitions and military modernization plan, the Philippine leadership under Aquino is once again demonstrating its seriousness in protecting its territorial sovereignty.

“America’s aid to its ally has long been predicated upon the Philippines also contributing its fair share. Now that President Aquino’s commitment can no longer be in doubt, the US should step up to the plate and uphold its end of the bargain,” Warshaw said.

Barely a week after returning from his relations-repairing state visit to Beijing, which he dubbed a success, Aquino directed the release of $118 million to enhance the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) capability to secure the territory of the Philippines, including providing a strong security perimeter for the Malampaya Natural Gas and Power Project, a gas-extraction field that provides half of the principal island of Luzon’s energy.

The $118 million complements the $1 billion already slated for the Philippines’ military modernization program, dubbed as the Capability Upgrade Program.

The money will be used to acquire six multipurpose helicopters, enhance various coastal surveillance systems, and construct an air force hanger in the province adjacent to Palawan. The government also plans to purchase two more Hamilton-class cutters from the US over the next two years.

“The unspoken purpose of this acquisition is to counter Chinese claims and provocations in the South China Sea. After all, against whom else would the Philippines need to protect its interests? Although Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and Taiwan also have claims in the South China Sea, none of these countries’ vessels have fired live rounds at Filipino fishermen, severed Philippine oil survey cables, and harassed Philippine ships in disputed areas, sometimes mere miles from the Philippines’ coastline. The guilty culprit, on at least nine separate occasions in 2011 alone, is China,” Warshaw said.

However, Warshaw said the Philippines cannot defend its territory without US assistance.

“First and foremost, the US should continue to protect and emphasize freedom of navigation in the Pacific, in the South China Sea, and elsewhere,” he said.

He added that with upcoming budget cuts, it is also imperative that Washington understands the vital role the US military plays in ensuring regional stability by protecting these waterways and asserting freedom of the sea.

A recent Heritage Foundation paper said the US should clearly stand by its security commitments to the Philippines and strengthen US-Philippine relations. It cited the need to provide the AFP with the means to defend itself through the discounted sale of excess defense articles and lend-lease programs, supporting the Philippines in the ASEAN Regional Forum and other multilateral institutions, and by finding new areas of military cooperation, including – consistent with the Philippines’ Constitution – new uses for the Subic Freeport.

P-Noy to have 1-on-1 with Obama By Aurea Calica

President Aquino will have a one-on-one meeting with US President Barack Obama when he visits the United States next week, Malacañang said yesterday.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said over radio dzRB the meeting between the two leaders had been set but it would be up to the Department of Foreign Affairs to release the full details of Aquino’s trip to the US on Sept. 19 to 22.

Washington think tank Heritage Foundation earlier said Obama should have a one-on-one meeting with Aquino, saying America’s aid to its ally had long been predicated upon the Philippines also contributing its fair share.

“Now that President Aquino’s commitment can no longer be in doubt, the US should step up to the plate and uphold its end of the bargain,” Robert Warshaw, research assistant in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation, said.

He said by increasing funding for its arms acquisitions and military modernization plan, the Philippine leadership under Aquino was once again demonstrating its seriousness in protecting its territorial sovereignty.

Aquino’s US visit was upon the request of Obama for him to attend the launch of the Open Government Partnership at the United Nations Assembly in New York.

The conference, which takes place on Sept. 19, will include the participation of several countries, two of them from Asia – the Philippines and Indonesia – and will set the stage for the formal launch of the US Initiative Open Government Partnership.

During the conference, eight steering committee countries – the Philippines included – will announce plans to secure commitments from other governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, and fight corruption.

Aquino will also speak at the World Bank’s annual conference in Washington on Sept. 21.

He is scheduled to return to the Philippines on Sept. 22, before embarking on another official visit to Tokyo, Japan from Sept. 26 to 28.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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