Senators in the Philippines are divided over ratifying a military pact which would allow Australian troops to be deployed on Philippine soil.
The so-called “status-of-forces agreement” sets out conditions for deploying Australian troops to the Philippines, in the hope of staging joint counter-terrorism exercises.
It was signed in 2007 and is awaiting ratification by the Philippines senate.
But some Philippine politicians want to wait for the outcome of an Australian investigation into sexual abuses in the military before Manila passes the agreement.
Senator Joker Arroyo says the Philippines should learn from a similar military agreement with the United States, which he says contained loopholes that allowed an American soldier convicted of raping a Filipino woman to escape serving his sentence in the Philippines.
But the vice chair of the Philippines senate defence committee Senator Gregorio Honasan wants the pact approved immediately.
He says current developments in the South China Sea, including Manila’s territorial dispute with Beijing on the Scarborough shoal, makes it urgent for the Philippines to consider its bilateral treaties.
The arrangement governing how Australian soldiers operate on Philippines soil is due to go before the Philippine senate for a final vote on ratification next month.