Manila: The Philippines announced Monday the country would proceed instantly to negotiations with the United States on terms for increased rotational presence of American forces in the country.
At a news briefing at Camp Aguinaldo in Metro Manila on Monday, Philippines Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario announced the formal start of the negotiations on the Philippines Framework Agreement on increased Rotational Presence by American forces.
"President Benigno Aquino III has given us permission to commence consultations and negotiations regarding an agreement that will provide a framework for US increased rotational presence in the Philippines," Gazmin said.
The Philippines panel will be composed of officials from the departments of foreign affairs, defense, justice, he added.
The negotiations will enable the Philippines and US to conduct activities such as bilateral exercises, including the prepositioning of equipment for disaster response and development of Philippine facilities, among others.
"The objectives of these activities are to enhance the capabilities of both countries while strengthening the alliance between the Philippines and the United State," he added.
Del Rosario said that "we developed a policy and arrived at an understanding with the United States, our treaty ally, on increased rotational presence."
"This week, diplomacy and defense will once again intersect to secure our nation, " he added.
"For Philippines diplomacy, this raises our already deep and historic strategic relations with a key partner to even greater heights," he said.
The planned increased rotational presence of the US forces is part of the ongoing re-balancing program of the Americans in the region.
Cooperating with the US move, the Philippines plans to relocate major air force and navy camps to Subic Bay, a former US naval base in northern Philippines.
The Philippines will station warships and fighter jets at the base, which will also be opened to the United States.