Obama: Philippine pact will improve Asia security
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Obama: Philippine pact will improve Asia security

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — President Barack Obama is wrapping up his four-nation tour of Asia with a stop in the Philippines.

Obama arrived Monday in the capital of Manila, following his earlier stops in Malaysia, Japan and South Korea.

He said a 10-year deal signed Monday to give the U.S. military greater access to Philippine bases will help strengthen security in the region. He said it also will allow for a faster response to natural disasters.

It is being seen as an effort by Washington to counter Chinese aggression in the region. Obama says he hopes at some point that the U.S. will be able to work cooperatively with China as well.

Obama was speaking at a news conference with President Benigno Aquino III.

Aquino was asked about human rights during the news conference. He said his government’s track record speaks for itself, citing the prosecution of those implicated in a 2009 massacre that killed 52 journalists and civilians.

But Aquino also said sometimes investigators determine journalists weren’t killed because of their profession. He said out of respect for privacy, officials don’t always disclose what they discover about, in his words, “shall we say, other issues.”

Aquino said those who accuse his government of stifling dissent should look at local media where he says criticism of the government is tolerated.