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    Posted March 15, 2014 by

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    Phl defense officials favor US presence

    THE state-run Philippines News Agency (PNA) on Saturday reported that the country’s defense officials have considered increasing US presence to achieve a minimum credible defense, while China continues its aggressive posturing in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
    The PNA said Philippines and the United States are currently threshing out the language on the framework agreement that would allow greater US military presence in the country.
    Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that according to Defense Undersecretary Pio Batino, the sixth round of their discussions had been productive.
    “They are threshing out the language. According to Undersecretary Batino, the discussions had been productive,” the report quoted Valte as saying.
    Valte added: “They were able to hammer out a few details on certain issues at handa rin po sila to move forward again.”
    When asked if the agreement would be finalized before the visit of US President Barack Obama in April, Valte told PNA that it is ideal if it could happen, but maintained that ironing out all details is more important.
    Valte noted that the guidance of President Benigno Aquino III to the panel is to make sure that everything that is being discussed and that is being agreed upon conforms to the 1987 Constitution and is under the framework of the existing Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
    She added that the challenge is to make sure there are no gray areas in the agreement.

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