13 JULY 2009

Makati Mayor and United Opposition (UNO) president Jejomar C. Binay today warned that the Arroyo administration may conveniently dangle allowing the US to open military bases here in exchange for support for term extension through Charter Change.

“The 1987 Constitution expressly prohibits foreign military bases in the country. But with Arroyo allies intent on amending the Constitution, the ban can be amended to allow the US to again open military bases in the Philippines ,” he said.

In exchange, the administration may seek US support for Mrs. Arroyo’s plan to amend the Charter and shift to a parliamentary form of government, he said.

“The main political concern of the US is that the elections push through in 2010. Mrs. Arroyo has assured the US there will be elections, but she did not say it will be under a presidential form,” he said.

“We all know the elections that they are contemplating is for a parliament where Mrs. Arroyo plans to become prime minister,” he added.

Mrs. Arroyo is set to meet with US President Barack Obama on July 30.

International observers have said the US is intent on increasing its presence in Southeast Asia to counter the growing influence of China is the region.

While originally premised on the war against terrorist groups in the region, the US is transforming its presence in the Philippines “to heighten its capacity for intervention within the country and region,” according to the group Focus for the Global South in a report titled “At the Door of All the East: The Philippines in United States Military Strategy.”

The report said because of its strategic location, the Philippines is among the countries where the US wants to set up bases.

Binay said despite the constitutional ban on foreign military bases, the report said Arroyo administration has allowed the US to expand its military presence in the country.

The report cited the increasing number of US military exercises since 2001; the growing number of ports visited by U.S. warships and the alleged “underreported presence” of a unit of U.S. Special Operations Forces stationed continuously and indefinitely in various camps throughout Mindanao since 2002, with its headquarters inside the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City.


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