Manila says it may revive military pact with S'pore

MANILA • Singapore and the Philippines are looking to revive a military training agreement next year that will allow Singapore's troops to hold exercises in the Philippines.

"Yes, we will look into that, for the revival of Anoa-Singa. It's a good arrangement because we could also learn a lot from the Singaporeans," Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters on Thursday.

The Philippines and Singapore entered into a military training agreement - known as the Anoa-Singa bilateral exercises - in 1994.

The pact allowed battalion-size armour units from Singapore to train in two military camps in the Philippines, and Singaporeans to enrol in the Philippine Military Academy.

The exercises were suspended in 1996 when some lawmakers in Manila pointed out that parts of Anoa-Singa would need ratification by the Philippine Senate because it involved foreign troops on Philippine soil.

In 2007, Singapore submitted a draft "visiting forces agreement" to the Philippines, but progress in crafting that Bill was slow.

Interest in the Philippines for a defence pact with Singapore was revived in 2012, as Manila concluded a "status of visiting forces agreement" with Australia in September that year. Since then, though, there has been little progress on an agreement to revive Anoa-Singa.

Mr Lorenzana said Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen told him during a defence forum in Singapore this week that they will "talk some more (about the agreement)". Mr Lorenzana added: "They want this to happen. They would like to conduct exercises with us also."

Asked how soon Anoa-Singa can be revived, he replied: "If we can finish the discussion this year and look at the (memorandum of understanding) again, maybe we can implement that next year."

Raul Dancel

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2017, with the headline 'Manila says it may revive military pact with S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe