From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Feb 15): Talks to increase US military presence in Philippines going on
Filipino leader Benigno Aquino said work is still ongoing for a prospective Philippine-U.S. framework agreement that would allow increased rotational presence of American troops in the Philippines.
Aquino said both countries want to make sure the pact does not violate Philippine and U.S. laws. “Mula naman noong simulan ang usapan na ito talagang ang focus ay mapamadali, na magkaayos na tayo’t magkasundo dito. Iyong principles that we want to uphold… dapat klaro ang details. Sabi nga nila, the devil is in the details. Iyong details ang medyo kailangan pang plantsahin (Since the negotiations started, the goal was to reach an agreement soonest. But we must make sure the result does not violate the rules of both countries. We still have to iron out the details),” he said.
There are speculations that the pact is being readied for signing in time for U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Manila in April.
But Aquino said there are still meetings being held to iron out the details of the pact. He said the added presence of US forces would boost the the country's position in its territorial row with China in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea.
Hundreds of U.S. troops are deployed since 2001 in southern Philippines - with camps in Zamboanga City in Mindanao and Sulu and Basilan provinces - to help Filipino troops fight terrorism.