President Aquino met with Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Sheldon Whitehouse and Kelly Ayotte at Malacañang on Tuesday as the Philippines and the United States agreed to strengthen military cooperation.
McCain, Lieberman and Ayotte who are all members of the US Senate armed services committee, said they are increasing their presence in the Asia-Pacific region and have already have established bases in Australia and Singapore.
Quoting Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin who was with the President in the meeting with the US senators, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing that there will be increased military exercises in Asia-Pacific region and that would also include the Philippines,
Lacierda clarified, however, that the US was not establishing any bases in the Philippines.
He said the Philippines also asked for a second Hamilton-class cutter, a request that the US senators vowed to support. The first Hamilton-class cutter arrived in the Philippines last August. It is now commissioned by the Philippine Navy to protect the country’s waters.
Lacierda said the Philippines welcomed the wider military cooperation between the two countries, and the Philippines is ready to engage itself in more military exercises with the US.
Some of the Filipino officials who attended the meeting included Gazmin, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
Department of National Defense (DND) Undersecretary for Finance, Munitions, Installations and Materiel Fernando Manalo, Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Installations and Logistics Patrick Velez and Assistant Secretary for Strategic Assessment Raymund Quilop were also present.