AFP Commissioned Officers Club, Camp Aguinaldo, 12 August 2013
Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin, members of the Philippine Negotiating Panel, fellow workers in government, our dear friends in media, good-morning.
It is a distinct honor to be with you here today. I would like to thank Secretary Gazmin for bringing us together and hosting all of us. Please let me tell you that it will always be a privilege for the DFA to work with the DND and AFP.
I say this as, at the frontlines of ensuring the security of our people and the territorial integrity of our nation. It lies in the essential partnership between diplomacy and defense.
If we are to secure our people and our nation, we would need to strengthen both diplomacy and defense.
Some time ago, we developed a policy and arrived at an understanding with the United States, our treaty ally, on increased rotational presence.
This week, diplomacy and defense will once again intersect to secure our nation. This week will mark the start of our negotiations with the United States to institutionalize this policy of increased rotational presence through a framework agreement.
For Philippine diplomacy, this raises our already deep and historic strategic relations with a key partner to even greater heights. By highlighting our treaty commitments under our Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement, we serve to keep our region stable and secure.
Through increased rotational presence, we can moreover expect:
· That modernization can begin even before we are able to purchase the necessary defense systems;
· That deterrence can be enhanced even before modernization;
· That maritime security and maritime domain awareness will be given a boost even before we have ships and aircraft that we need;
· That even before we have the advanced hardware we wish for, we will know how to operate and maintain them; and, equally important,
· That our ability to provide our people and the region with timely and responsive humanitarian and disaster relief will be vastly improved.
Our Philippine negotiators have been given parameters that require them to ensure that our Constitution and laws are fully respected. They have been tasked to ensure that Philippine interests are preserved and promoted.
They have also been tasked to keep your goodselves, our public and Congress informed. Last week, Secretary Gazmin and l formally advised Congress of these negotiations. We committed to brief them after every round of negotiations. The Philippine Panel will also brief media after every round and make themselves available for media queries.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Transparency is extremely important in these negotiations. Our people need to know that our laws are observed and our interests are protected at all times.
Our region would also need to know that we are steadfastly for peace; but that we stand ready to tap every resource, to call on every alliance, to do what is necessary in order to defend what is ours, to secure our nation and to keep our people safe.
Thank you for your kind attention.