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Philippines negotiating with U.S. to bolster military presence

August 8, 2013

The Philippines has been at odds with China recently due to a dispute over control of certain waters in the South China Sea. Both nations claim to have authority over the area, and the former claims that China has brought a more aggressive naval presence to the fold of late. As a result, Philippine officials stated that they will enter talks with the United States - which once oversaw the island nation as one of its territories - to bring in American armed forces in an effort to ward off China's alleged incursion, according to The Associated Press. This development is likely a controversial topic of conversation in phone calls made by Filipino citizens, conducted using international calling cards.

The news source reported that although the Philippine Constitution contains provisions barring any permanent presence of foreign military forces, the U.S. and the Philippines have a treaty in place allowing temporary deployments of U.S. troops to the nation. Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario claimed that any American reinforcements would be brought in according to that treaty's guidelines in their recent statement about the matter.

"The Philippines will shortly enter into consultations and negotiations with the United States on a possible framework agreement that would implement our agreed policy of increased rotational presence," the statement read. Gazmin and Del Rosario added that U.S. forces would be instrumental in providing aid after natural disasters - a crucial benefit given the Philippines' proclivity for earthquakes, typhoons and other extreme weather events.

In addition to the potential increase in military presence, the island country is also seeking a diplomatic resolution to its dispute with China. The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that the arbitral tribunal of the United Nations is slated to deliver a ruling in the Philippines' arbitration case against China within the next two weeks, according to claims made by del Rosario. Deliberations regarding the matter began on July 11.

Additionally, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has reached out to China in efforts to come to a mutually desirable solution to this issue for the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, all of which have claims of some sort to areas of the South China Sea, particularly the West Philippine Sea. China, which desires control of nearly the entire region, has been slow in its negotiations with the aforementioned countries.

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