By Vince Angelo C. Ferreras
FOLLOWING the pronouncement of the United Kingdom to open military bases in the Caribbean and Southeast Asia, Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana said the entry of the European country in the region should be discussed first with other ASEAN nations.
The Defense chief said the interest of UK to have a military base in the region might be discussed within this year by the ASEAN nations.
“Magkakaroon kami ng meeting very soon, pag-uusapan namin ‘yun… kung anong maging effect sa ASEAN,” Mr. Lorenzana told reporters on Tuesday, Jan. 8. (We will have a meeting very soon, we will discuss… what could be its effect in ASEAN.)
UK’s Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson was cited in a report by the Sunday Telegraph as saying that their government is working on plans to build two military bases in the Caribbean and Southeast Asia as part of plans to broaden relations with other countries after Brexit.
Although Mr. Williamson did not name the possible locations, British media outlets said that Singapore or Brunei, both former British colonies, were eyed as a potential site for the base.
Mr. Lorenzana said, “We are looking at it very carefully kung ano ang magiging implication….Wala pa kaming masabing study, but we are going to study that closely with the other ASEAN defense ministers.” (We are looking at it very carefully on what could be its implication…. We cannot [cite] any study for now, but we are going to study that closely with the other ASEAN defense ministers.)
He said the Philippine government is also reviewing its Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States. “We are reviewing it on our own muna, tingnan natin muna ‘yung kabuuan ng MDT-MDB (Mutual Defense Board) kung ito pa ay gusto pa natin, gusto nating i-rebisa, o tanggalin na natin. Tatlo lang naman ‘yun e, maintain, revise or abrogate,” he said. (We are still reviewing it on our own, let’s see first the whole picture of the MDT-MDB if we still want it, revise it, or just abolish it. We just have three options, maintain, revise, or abrogate.)
On the dispute over the South China Sea, Mr. Lorenzana said, “There is status quo muna, walang galawan (status quo for now, no movement)…. Allow the fishermen of all countries to fish in the area so that’s it, and we are hoping that the Code of Conduct… will be finished soon…. So hopefully we can have a workable or acceptable Code of Conduct in the sea in three years time.”