US reaffirms security commitment to Philippines
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo met with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. at the State Department in Washington yesterday. The meeting was a follow-up to their phone conversation last October.
Jim Watson / AFP

US reaffirms security commitment to Philippines

Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - December 22, 2018 - 12:42am

MANILA, Philippines — Washington has reaffirmed its security commitment to the Philippines under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, which some officials wanted reviewed over what they thought was its vague wording of US guarantee of military support in the event of a foreign attack.

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo met with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. at the State Department in Washington yesterday. The meeting was a follow-up to their phone conversation last October.

In a statement, the US embassy in Manila said the two officials discussed cooperation on issues of mutual concern, including counterterrorism and regional concerns such as the situation in the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea.

“The secretary reaffirmed the enduring US-Philippines alliance, including commitments under the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951,” US State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said.

The US reaffirmation came a day after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he wanted a review of the provisions of the Philippines’ defense treaty with the US.

Lorenzana stressed the need to review the treaty given the ambivalent stand of the US on the country’s maritime domain, including its territorial issues in the West Philippine Sea.

The defense department, he said, wanted Washington to give a definitive commitment of armed support for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the event of confrontation with other claimants.

Lorenzana said areas in the South China Sea over which the Philippines has sovereign rights should be covered by the MDT to obligate the US to come to the aid of the country if ever the Philippines is attacked by other states.

But the US had made it clear it’s not taking sides in the territorial dispute over the South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea among the Philippines, China and other Southeast Asian countries with claims to areas in the sea.

The US, in its security treaty with Japan, is clear about its position to defend its powerful Asian ally and former enemy from external attacks. In Article 5 of its security pact with the US, Japan allows American forces stationed in the country to help maintain peace and repel foreign aggressors or put down internal disturbances sparked by instigation or intervention by external forces.

Meanwhile, Palladino said Pompeo and Locsin also explored opportunities to increase people-to-people ties between the two countries.

They also reaffirmed their longstanding commitment to human rights and vowed greater cooperation to strengthen the Philippines’ energy security.

During their meeting, Locsin also expressed Manila’s appreciation for the recent return of the Balangiga Bells.

The three church bells taken by American soldiers as war booty from Balangiga town, Eastern Samar in 1901, arrived in the Philippines on Dec. 11.

Locsin was accompanied by Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez.

MICHAEL POMPEO TEODORO LOCSIN JR.
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