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Se reune Obama con presidente Filipino

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Se reune Obama con presidente Filipino Empty Se reune Obama con presidente Filipino

Mensaje por ivan_077 Abril 30th 2014, 03:34

Obama arrives in Philippines on two-day visit

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Published Date: 28 Apr, 2014 (1:58 PM)

Manila, April 28 (IANS) US President Barack Obama arrived in the Philippines Monday on a two-day state visit.

Obama's plane, the Air Force One, touched down at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City in the Philippines capital region of Metro Manila, Xinhua reported.

He was welcomed by Philippine officials led by Vice President Jejomar Binay and US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg.

Obama boarded a helicopter and headed to Malacanang, the presidential palace of the country, to attend the official arrival ceremony with the Philippine President Benigno Aquino III.

After the arrival ceremony, Obama will hold a bilateral meeting with Aquino.

Later in the afternoon, the presidents of the US and the Philippines will hold a joint press conference in Malacanang.

Obama will also meet the employees and family members of the US embassy at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City.

After the "meet and greet" with embassy personnel, he will go back to Malacanang to attend the state dinner hosted by Aquino.

The Philippines is the last leg of Obama's four-nation Asia trip which kicked off in Japan.

He also visited South Korea and Malaysia.

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Se reune Obama con presidente Filipino Empty Obama touts Philippine pact amid China concerns

Mensaje por ivan_077 Abril 30th 2014, 03:35

DARLENE SUPERVILLE JIM GOMEZ Associated Press Published: April 28, 2014 10:51AM

MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- President Barack Obama said a 10-year agreement signed Monday to give the U.S military greater access to Philippine bases will help promote peace and stability in the region and that he hopes China's dominant power will allow its neighbors to prosper on their own terms.

Signed as Obama arrived in Manila, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement will give American forces temporary access to selected military camps and allow them to preposition fighter jets and ships. Although the deal is being perceived as a U.S. effort to counter Chinese aggression in the region, Obama said his message to Beijing is that America wants to partner with China in upholding international law.

"Our goal is not to counter China. Our goal is not to contain China. Our goal is to make sure international rules and norms are respected and that includes in the area of international disputes," Obama said at a news conference with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III at the Malacanang Palace.

Obama's overnight visit to the Philippines is the last stop on a weeklong Asia tour that also included Japan, South Korea and Malaysia. At each stop along his tour, Obama reaffirmed the U.S. treaty commitments to defend its Asian allies, including in their territorial disputes with China. He said in Manila that the U.S. takes no specific position on those disputes, but believes China should resolve disputes with its neighbors the same way the U.S. does -- through dialogue.

"We don't go around sending ships and threatening folks," Obama said.

With its anemic military, the Philippines has struggled to bolster its territorial defense amid China's increasingly assertive behavior in the oil- and gas-rich South China Sea, which Obama flew over on his way here, according to the Air Force One cockpit. Chinese paramilitary ships took effective control of the disputed Scarborough Shoal, a rich fishing ground off the northwestern Philippines, in 2012. Last year, Chinese coast guard ships surrounded another contested offshore South China Sea territory, the Second Thomas Shoal.

Aquino, standing next to Obama in front of a lush backdrop of tropical plants, said the new agreement "takes our security cooperation to a higher level of engagement, reaffirms our countries' commitment to mutual defense and security, and promotes regional peace and stability."

Still, the increased U.S. military role drew consternation from some Filipino activists, who say the agreement reverses democratic gains achieved when huge American military bases were shut down in the early 1990s, ending a nearly century-long military presence in the former U.S. colony.

Some 800 of those activists burned mock U.S. flags and chanted "no-bama, no bases, no war" on the road leading to the gates of the palace where Obama met with Aquino. Others burned an effigy of Obama riding a chariot pulled by Aquino, who was depicted as a dog.

Seeking to allay concerns, Obama said at the outset of his remarks that the U.S. wasn't trying to reclaim bases or open new ones. Instead, he said, the agreement will improve maritime security and hasten response to regional natural disasters.

Yet even as he moved to increase America's military presence in Asia, Obama pushed back against suggestions that an undercurrent of weakness in his foreign policy has enabled the type of festering crises that have become distractions even during Obama's trip to Asia. Reviewing his decision-making on Russia, Syria and other global hot-spots, Obama said he's strengthened the U.S. position in the world even if his tactics "may not always be sexy."

"For some reason, many who were proponents of what I consider to be a disastrous decision to go into Iraq haven't really learned the lesson of the last decade," Obama said of his more hawkish critics. "Why? I don't know."

Honoring Obama at a state dinner later at the palace, Aquino presented Obama with the "Order of Sikatuna," a national award recognizing exceptional service to the Philippines and its global relations. Obama was given the rank of "Raja," a distinction bestowed only on heads of state, and said he was deeply honored.

"I accept it in the spirit in which it has been bestowed, with a commitment to continuing to depend the bonds between our two great nations," Obama said as some 300 guests watched from long tables adorned with baskets of tomatoes, red peppers, figs and other local produce.

Under the new military agreement, Filipino facilities would remain under Philippine control and U.S. forces would rotate in and out for joint training, as some already do, and not be based in the country, he said. The Philippine Constitution bars permanent U.S. military bases, although hundreds of American military personnel have been deployed in the southern Philippines since 2002 to provide counterterrorism training to Filipino soldiers fighting Muslim militants.

Many details, including the size and duration of the U.S. military presence, remain to be worked out with the Philippine government. The White House has declined to say which places are being considered under the agreement, but that the long-shuttered U.S. facility at Subic Bay could be one of the locations.

U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg and Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin signed the agreement at the main military camp in the capital, Manila, shortly before Obama's arrival in the country on Monday. Obama planned to pay his respects Tuesday at the U.S. military cemetery at Fort Bonifacio and address U.S. and Philippine troops before returning to Washington.


Associated Press writers Oliver Teves and Teresa Cerojano in Manila contributed to this report.


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Se reune Obama con presidente Filipino Empty Drilon: Bring PH-US military deal to Supreme Court

Mensaje por ivan_077 Abril 30th 2014, 03:36

'If the document is not sent to [the Senate], then we will have nothing to ratify.... Bring it to the Supreme Court, which is the ultimate arbiter as whether this is a treaty or an executive agreement'
Ayee Macaraig
Published 10:25 PM, Apr 29, 2014
Updated 10:25 PM, Apr 29, 2014

FINAL ARBITER. Drilon says supporters and critics of the PH-US military deal should raise the issue before the Supreme Court. File photo by Joseph Vidal/Senate PRIBFINAL ARBITER. Drilon says supporters and critics of the PH-US military deal should raise the issue before the Supreme Court. File photo by Joseph Vidal/Senate PRIB

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court has the final say.

Senate President Franklin Drilon urged both critics and proponents of the Philippines’ military deal with the United States to bring it before the Supreme Court (SC) to settle whether or not the agreement requires Senate approval.

Following a heated debate on the nature of the deal, Drilon said it is best to let the high court issue a definitive ruling on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

“I would urge everyone to go to the Supreme Court and let the Supreme Court finally decide whether this is a treaty that will require ratification of the Senate or an executive agreement which can be implemented by a mere signature of the executive branch,” Drilon told reporters on Tuesday, April 29.

While his colleagues remain divided on the deal, Drilon did not issue a position on the matter. He said there is still no schedule for the executive branch to send a copy of the agreement to the Senate. The deal was only made public on Tuesday, a day after it was signed. (Read the full text here.)

“In fact, I have not seen the copy of the agreement, only the Frequently Asked Questions published in the papers today,” said the staunch administration ally.

Drilon said the Senate oversight committee on the Visiting Forces Agreement can ask the executive branch to explain the new deal, but it will still remain unclear whether Senate approval is needed.

“Whether or not we can ratify depends on the executive branch if they will send to us for ratification. If the document is not sent to us, then we will have nothing to ratify officially. Then I will go back to my suggestion: bring it to the Supreme Court, which is the ultimate arbiter as whether or not this is a treaty or an executive agreement,” said Drilon, a former justice secretary.

Signed ahead of the state visit of US President Barack Obama, the agreement gives US troops greater access to Philippine bases, and allows them to build facilities in these bases with the consent of Filipino officials.

Senate foreign relations committee chairperson Miriam Defensor-Santiago criticized the signing of the deal, calling it an “unfair surprise on the Philippine Senate." Santiago believes the deal constitutes a treaty and should have the concurrence of the Senate. Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Ralph Recto supported her position.

Leftist lawmakers in the House of Representatives already announced they would question the deal before the high tribunal.

Senate defense committee chairman Antonio Trillanes IV and Cynthia Villar echoed the position of Malacañang that the deal is a mere executive agreement implementing past treaties.

The 1987 Constitution states that foreign bases shall not be allowed except under a treaty that the Senate approved.

Section 25, Article XVIII, of the Constitution reads:

“After the expiration in 1991 of the Agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America concerning military bases, foreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate and, when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”

‘Negotiations require secrecy’

Drilon also responded to criticism that the deal lacked transparency. Santiago, former Senator Joker Arroyo, and former senators who voted to close down the US bases in 1991 pointed out that the public and the Senate were “kept in the dark” about the agreement.

The Senate President said negotiation is primarily the duty of the executive branch.

“As you will recall in the bases treaty, there was negotiation between the US panel and the Philippine panel and, afterward, the treaty was submitted for ratification by the Senate. That is the nature of the negotiation,” he said.

“You cannot expose your positions publicly. You have to negotiate. The participation of the Senate is in the ratification of the document,” Drilon added.

Drilon also did not take issue with Obama’s failure to give a categorical commitment that the US will defend the Philippines if its territorial dispute with China escalates into armed conflict.

The Philippines is a treaty ally of the US following the ratification of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty. Unlike with Japan, Obama did not give a firm response to questions on whether or not his country's treaty with the Philippines covered Manila’s maritime dispute with Beijing in the South China Sea.

Drilon said, “I expected that he will assert, emphasize the support of the US on the process that the Philippines has followed, the conduct of the nations in this part of the world should be rules-based and supporting the arbitration. I expected that and I’m glad it was articulated very clearly by President Obama: that they are supporting the position of the Philippines that this matter be brought to international arbitration.”

At the start of his 4-nation tour of Asia, Obama said in Tokyo that US troops will defend Japan if China tried to take disputed islands in the East China Sea by force.

While Obama made no such statement in Manila, he said US commitment to the Philippines was “ironclad.” –

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Se reune Obama con presidente Filipino Empty U.S. Commando Mission in Philippines Getting Overhaul

Mensaje por ivan_077 Abril 30th 2014, 03:38

BY Dan Lamothe
APRIL 29, 2014 - 03:00 PM

Se reune Obama con presidente Filipino Navy-seals

President Obama's new agreement with the Philippines will give U.S. troops greater access to military bases across the Pacific island nation. But it's not the only major military transition underway there: Just as more conventional U.S. forces are likely to flow through the Philippines, the United States is pulling back on its long-running and secretive special operations mission there, reducing the number of commandos and altering the focus for those who remain.

The mission was launched in January 2002, just months after the 9/11 terror attacks, to help the Philippine military hunt Islamist extremist fighters in the region. Navy SEALs, U.S. Army Special Forces and other U.S. commandos zeroed in on southern islands such as Mindanao and Basilan, which are home to the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf and were identified as a potential breeding ground for terrorists looking to launch attacks against the United States. There typically were some 600 U.S. commandos on the ground training and advising the Philippine military, but the number has been reduced in the last year to less than 400, and more cuts are expected, a U.S. special operations official told Foreign Policy.

The U.S. forces' primary mission wasn't to fight, but the American commandos have still found themselves in bloody situations on occasion. At least 17 U.S. troops have died there, including 10 in a helicopter crash in 2002, one in a restaurant bombing in 2002, and two in a roadside bombing attack in 2009. More recently, U.S. troops with Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command launched an Oct. 18, 2011, rescue mission alongside their Philippine counterparts after Philippine commandos were ambushed during an attempted raid on a village on Basilan. Six Philippine troops were killed and about a dozen were wounded, U.S. military officials said. No U.S. forces were wounded or killed, but some of the Philippine casualties were reportedly beheaded.

The ongoing withdrawal of U.S. commandos is a major move for the Pentagon because the mission in the Philippines is widely viewed as a model for how "foreign internal defense" should work, said Linda Robinson, a special operations analyst with the Rand Corporation that has consulted with the military frequently. Under the concept, the Pentagon sends small amounts of highly trained troops to a foreign country that wants U.S. help and is willing to do the bulk of the fighting itself rather than sending in large numbers of American forces.

"The thing that made the Philippines such a good model was they maintained constant touch with the Philippine government and forces they were training," Robinson said. "They didn't come and go; they had them there consistently."

It's also a bit of a gamble. The Philippine military continues to clash with insurgents groups across the island nation. On Tuesday, for example, local commanders in Zamboanga City said their marine corps forces had captured a fortified Abu Sayyaf camp on Sulu, another island. The assault was launched hours ahead of Obama's arrival in Manila. The extremist group is believed to have numerous captives hidden on Sulu in jungle compounds. The U.S. unit overseeing special operations in the country is known as Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines, and has headquarters on a Camp Navarro, a Philippine base in Zamboanga City, an urban center on Mindanao.

Still, Admiral Samuel Locklear, the chief of U.S. Pacific Command, told Foreign Policy that Philippine security forces have advanced to the point that they don't need as much U.S. assistance as they did a decade ago. Additionally, the government in Manila wants to pivot to build a civilian police force that can maintain security in volatile areas, rather than using the military to hold the line. That will require fewer U.S. special commandos, with many of those remaining focused on training the police force to safeguard the southern islands in the future, the admiral said.

"We're not going to walk away from our support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, but we'd like to broaden it in a way that is consistent with the way forward that the Armed Forces of the Philippines sees it," Locklear told Foreign Policy. "... We don't necessarily need a 600-man train-and-assist mission down there to try to teach them how to do something that they now know how to do."

A U.S. special operations spokesman said the relationship between U.S. commandos and the Philippine military has progressed to the point where they ask for help less frequently, and make specific requests when they do that usually involve crunching surveillance data, using aviation, or launching medical rescue missions. Within the last year, an additional adjustment was made so that advising occurs at the "task force level," meaning the majority of the advising now focuses on tasks carried out by senior officers, like planning and scrutinizing intelligence. It's a sign that commanders believe their rank-and-file troops have picked up the skills U.S. commandos have taught.

The positioning of the special operations forces in the Philippines came in handy last year in the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, which roared across the island nation on Nov. 8, 2013, with winds of more than 200 mph. U.S. special operations troops were among the first to respond, transporting more than 23,000 pounds of relief supplies and evacuating 201 displaced civilian shortly after the storm. They also conducted dozens of aerial "assessment patrols" using aircraft to gauge the damage on the ground so relief workers would know where to focus their efforts, special operations officials said.

U.S. Navy photo

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