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PHILLIPINES
Defence
September 2, 2007
Lawmakers say US bases being built in South Pacific
Leftist Philippines lawmaker Crispin Beltran issued a dare to the U.S. Embassy in Manila on Sunday. He dared it to allow the Philippines Congress to conduct a fact-finding mission in areas in southern Philippines where U.S. military bases were reportedly being constructed. Beltran represents the Anakpawis (Urgan Poor) party list.

Beltran accused the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, Kristie Kenney, of lying when she denied reports that Washington is building military bases in the southern Philippines for its troops stationed in the region.

The militant lawmaker said, "This is an outright lie on the part of the U.S. Embassy and Ambassador [Kristie] Kenney. The only way we can all settle this matter is for the U.S. to sanction and allow members of an official fact-finding mission authorized by the House of Representatives to conduct on-site inspections in the areas pinpointed to be sites of U.S. military facility construction."

But before the embassy could accept the challenge, Beltran said he strongly doubts if the U.S. embassy will accept it.

"Will the U.S. Embassy allow us this? Will they allow on-site inspections, and will they surrender complete data and information regarding the extent and coverage of the construction activities?" he said.

"We all know that the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) prohibits this, but if the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. military command in the Philippines waives this right to secrecy, on-site inspections can be conducted and critics of U.S. military intervention in the country can see for themselves whether or not the U.S. Embassy is telling the truth or not," he added.

He added that he has already filed a House resolution seeking a congressional probe into the reported construction of U.S. military facilities in southern Philippines.

Another senior opposition senator, Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel also questioned the reports of U.S. military facilities under construction under the guise of "temporary structures."

Building a foreign military structure is prohibited under the Philippine constitution and the VFA signed between Washington and Manila. AHN reports

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