Philippines confident that accord letting US expand military presence will withstand challenge

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The Philippine government insists its new accord letting the U.S. expand its military presence in the country is legal and is confident the accord will withstand constitutional challenges.

President Benigno Aquino III appeared unruffled by at least two petitions seeking to scrap the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, saying he expected opposition.

Government spokesmen said Tuesday the government is confident it can defend the agreement before the Supreme Court.

The two petitions argue that the agreement violates the constitutional ban on foreign military bases because it allows U.S. forces to establish facilities inside Philippine bases where the Americans can preposition troops and materiel indefinitely.

The accord follows the announced U.S. "pivot" to Asia where China is displaying increasing aggressiveness in its territorial conflict with its neighbors in the South China Sea.