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‘Pompeo visit to make US understand PH policy’

The first visit of State Secretary Michael Pompeo to Manila poses a good opportunity for the United States to better understand the country's independent foreign policy, a political analyst said Thursday.

"It's more of understanding each other well, a better understanding of what the Philippine independent foreign policy means for the US," Ramon Casiple told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on the sidelines of a forum on Philippine-US relations in Quezon City.

"There are still so many questions that could be clarified here (in the upcoming meeting). I think that's the outcome that we could see after unless the US has other things in its mind," he added.

Pompeo is expected to arrive in the Philippines on February 28 to meet with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and pay a courtesy call on President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said the two secretaries would discuss issues of mutual interest with the possibility of tackling the proposed review of the 67-year-old Mutual Defense Treaty between Manila and Washington.

With the expanding immigration concerns in the US, Casiple said Manila should also take advantage of the visit to clarify how Filipinos in America are affected by these issues.

Moreover, the country should also seek for a categorical answer on where the US stands in the South China Sea issue, as well as on the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, he said.

"(On our part) we are really not in the position to offer something big," he noted as he said that the administration's position since 2016 has been clear, as stated in the framework of its independent foreign policy.

"Kumbaga nangyari na like our closer ties with China, ano pang sasabihin ng (US) doon? Unless sabihin ng presidente na iatras lahat 'yan at bumalik sa US, huli, meaning 'yong special relations, which I

don't think will happen (That is to say we have already implemented our independent foreign policy like our closer ties with China, what can the US say against that? Unless the president pulls out and say we return to US, in terms of special relations, I don't think that will happen)," he said. 

Casiple also said that the country's mutual defense cooperation with the United States is "not really a mutual defense [treaty]."

Casiple said the USA wanted the Armed Forces to stay weak so that the Philippines would always rely on it.

"That was the logic under the mutual defense treaty. Let us take a paradigm shift. It is not really a mutual defense," he said.

"Having said that, we must maintain our independent foreign policy by modernizing our AFP," he added.

He said the US had always refused to give the Philippines the modern military weapon and equipment, and even vessels under the treaty, and that South Korea gave the Philippine government a trailer jet, plus a US-licensed arm equipment, but US refused to equip the jet with armaments.

"President Rodrigo Duterte asked, what do with that jet? To crash into our rival? What has [ex-President Benigno] Aquino [III] done? Where does the problem lie? It is with the US," he said.

"We wanted a submarine and a frigate, but the US did not want to give us," he added.

He, however, said the US has been "handling" Japan more favorably under their mutual defense cooperation compared to the Philippines, he cited.

"Under their treaty, the US shall give immediate response to Japan," he said, adding the US agreed to help defend Japan against any foreign encroachment of its territories.

"As far as our agreement was concerned, there was none. This was the reason why we lost our Panatag Shoal and Mischief Reef. The US said there was no such provision under our mutual defense treaty [to help defend the Philippines]," he said.

Casiple added that even former President Benigno Aquino III cursed then US President Barrack Obama before his arrival in the Philippines when he learned about the militarization in the Panatag Shoal, also known as the Scarborough Shoal.

"Read the 'Times' and you will see the action of the former President has been recorded there," he said.

He said there is a need to review any renegotiated treaty with the US.

"With regards to review, not just a written review, but a review of the foreign policies of all treaties. If a treaty has to be changed, let it be changed. If it has to be abrogated, let it be abrogated," he said.

Topics: Mike Pompeo , Philippines , Salvador Panelo , Rodrigo Duterte , Ramon Casiple
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