US eyes indefinite stay in PH through mutual logistics deal -- Bayan | Inquirer News

US eyes indefinite stay in PH through mutual logistics deal — Bayan

/ 01:44 PM February 27, 2012

MANILA, Philippines — The obscure 2002 Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) between the Philippines and the United States may hold the key to the increased US military access to the country, according to the militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).

Not as well known as the Visiting Forces Agreement, the MLSA was a five-year executive agreement entered into by the Arroyo administration. It was renewed on Nov. 21, 2007, after a supposed government review of the pact that was never made public.

The MLSA, which allows the US military access to Philippine facilities and a wide array of services that are typical of American bases, such as transportation, refueling and billeting of troops, is set to expire on Nov. 21, 2012.


In a statement, Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes warned on Monday that Manila and Washington might expand the scope and duration of the MLSA.


Reyes said, “while the MLSA on paper does not allow the setting up of permanent US structures in the country, it allows the US military to be serviced by the Philippines during approved activities such as joint military exercises.”

“However, these access and service arrangements allow the US to have all the benefits of formal bases,” Reyes pointed out.

The two sides “may be considering making the MLSA in effect indefinitely and applicable at any time, even when there are no joint military exercises and other activities. They may amend provisions, which prevent the US from setting up certain structures and facilities. Combined with the VFA, which is in effect indefinitely, the MLSA will ensure permanent US military presence in the country,” he said.

Asked for comment, the Department of Foreign Affairs neither confirmed nor denied Bayan’s claim the MLSA might be taken up during March’s high-levels talks in Washington between Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and his US counterpart Leon Panetta.

“The schedule and agenda for the meeting (in late March) are still being firmed up,” Raul Hernandez, the DFA spokesperson, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Bayan challenged the DFA to reveal the details of the MLSA review, which is required one year before the agreement expires.


“The last time the MLSA was reviewed, the public was left in the dark. No details were disclosed. We were surprised the pact was extended. Will that be the same case now? Will there be a more sinister version of this quasi-basing agreement?” Reyes asked.

Early this month, Del Rosario told the Inquirer that next month’s high-level talks between him and Clinton would push through as planned.

On Jan. 27, Manila and Washington issued a joint statement following the completion of their second bilateral strategic dialogue in the US capital where they looked forward to “continuing our high-level consultation at a joint ministerial meeting” next March.

The two sides also committed to further enhance cooperation in security, defense, commerce, law enforcement, human rights, and disaster relief.

Del Rosario said the Philippines would accept an increased US military presence in the country, but emphasized that this would be in accordance with Philippine law, which has banned the basing of foreign troops.

He explained increased military presence could include more and more frequent joint exercises and a greater number of American troops rotating through the country.

According to the DFA chief, “it is to our definite advantage to be exploring how to maximize our treaty alliance with the US in ways that would be mutually acceptable and beneficial.”

He did not specifically mention China as driving the Philippines’ push for a greater US military presence, but highlighted “territorial disputes,” apparently referring to the six-nation Spratlys conflict in the West Philippine Sea.

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Aside from the Philippines and China, the potentially resource-rich island-chain is also being claimed wholly or partly by Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei Darussalam.

TAGS: Diplomacy, Logistics, Military, Philippines, Protests

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