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Filipinos say no to more U.S. troops

ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Dozens of activists marched outside the U.S. embassy in Manila on Saturday (January 28) to denounce ongoing talks with the United States on possibly expanding military cooperation between the two allies. Philippine defence minister Voltaire Gazmin said on Friday (January 27) the country was considering a U.S. proposal to deploy surveillance aircraft on a temporary, rotating basis to enhance its ability to guard disputed areas in the South China Sea. Spokesperson for the left-leaning New Patriotic Alliance, Renato Reyes said the Philippines might get caught in the middle if tensions rise between China and the U.S. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW PATRIOTIC ALLIANCE SPOKESPERSON RENATO REYES SAYING: "We are very opposed to the plans to re-align and deploy more U.S. troops in the Philippines, and we are aware that this is in line with the U.S. strategy to build up its armed forces in Asia to counter China. And we feel that the Philippines might be caught in the rising tension between the two countries if we allow the U.S. to base their troops in this region." Gazmin said there was no plan for any new U.S. bases. The Philippines has a constitutional ban on foreign military bases on its soil. Since 2002, about 600 U.S. commandos have been stationed in the south of the Philippines to help train and advise Philippine troops in fighting a small Islamist militant group with ties to al Qaeda. The talks with the Philippines, follow Washington's announcement of plans to set up a Marine base in northern Australia and possibly station warships in Singapore. The Obama administration describes the moves as part of a "pivot" toward economically dynamic Asia designed to reassure allies that felt neglected during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

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