US, Philippines discuss wider US military presence
MANILA (AP) - A larger US military presence in the Philippines will help the country detect and deter territorial intrusions in the South China Sea through information-sharing but American troops will still be banned from getting involved in regular security operations, the Philippine defense chief said on Wednesday.
The last US military base in the Philippines shut down in 1992. The US and Filipino officials began negotiations Wednesday in Manila on a defense agreement that would allow larger numbers of US troops to have temporary access to Philippine military camps and bring in aircraft, ships and other security assets into the country.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said a larger US presence can lead to more joint military training and help the Philippines respond to major disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes.
"They'll feed vital information to us and we'll take action based on those information," Mr Gazmin said by telephone, adding both sides would have to agree on the exact number of additional US troops and the military equipment they can temporarily bring to local camps.