Palace on framework agreement on U.S. troops presence: ‘We don’t want to rush’

MANILA, March 8 (PNA) — Malacanang is in no hurry to reach an immediate framework agreement on United States military presence in the country, an official said Saturday.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr. said in an interview over state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan that the government’s priority is to arrive at an acceptable agreement.

He also said that the administration is not looking at a timetable and could not say if it would be finished before U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to the Philippines in April.

“Ang batid po natin ay sinisikap ng magkabilang panig na magkaroon ng katanggap-tanggap na kasunduan,” Coloma said.

“Hindi po natin batid, at least sa panig ng ating pamahalaan, kung mayroong naitakdang timetable,” he added.

He reiterated that coming up with an acceptable agreement is more important than coming up with a quick one.

“Hindi po ‘yung pagmamadali kundi ‘yung pagtitiyak na magiging katanggap-tanggap ito sa lahat ng aspeto para naman maging kapaki-kapakinabang sa interes ng bansa,” Coloma said.

“Sa ating panig, hindi po ‘yung deadline pero ‘yung kalidad ng kasunduan at nilalaman nito,” he added.

Philippine defense officials have considered increasing U.S. presence in the country to achieve a minimum credible defense, particularly with the aggressive posturing of China in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). (PNA)