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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

PBBM open to Japan’spitch for trilateral defensepact with US and PHL

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PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said Japan is now eyeing a trilateral defense agreement with the Philippines and the United States (US).

He said Japanese officials made the recommendation during his official trip in Japan last week as an alternative to a bilateral accord, similar to the country’s Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US.

“So that we really have to discuss what is—what exactly does that entail, and of course, we have to talk to the Americans also to see what roles…are going to be played should there be a tripartite agreement,” Marcos told reporters during his return flight from Japan on Sunday.

Details of the said trilateral scheme are expected to be ironed out during the President’s next meeting with Japanese and US officials.

Marcos said he is open to a VFA or a reciprocal access agreement with Japan if it will help secure the country’s fishermen and maritime territory.

A significant consideration for his approval for the scheme, he said, will be determining how it will affect the country’s diplomatic relations with China.

“We have to be careful also because we do not want to appear provocative. Because instead of calming the situation in the South China Sea (SCS), maybe it will make the situation there more volatile. That’s not what we want,” Marcos said.

The country currently has territorial disputes with China in the SCS, which resulted in the harassment of Filipino fishermen as well as the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

The most recent of the incidents happened last Feb. 6, when a Chinese Coast Guard vessel directed a military grade light at the PCG ship in the Ayungin Shoal.

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