Locsin: No need to review Mutual Defense Treaty

Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - March 1, 2019 - 2:15pm

MANILA, Philippines — Confident of the United States' commitment to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin said there is no need to review the agreement.

Acknowledging proposals to review provisions of the treaty between the two countries, the Philippines' top diplomat said this "requires further thought."

"In vagueness lies uncertainty — a deterrent. Specificity invites evasion and actions outside the MDT framework," Locsin said in a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

For Locsin, Washington's repeated assurances that it would assist Manila in case of an act of aggression is enough.

The DFA secretary said he does not think a review of the defense deal is necessary as he believes in the "old theory of deterrence."

"I don't believe that going down into the details is the way the sincerity of the American commitment will be shown," Locsin said.

"They will respond depending on the circumstances but we are very assured, we are confident that the United States has, in the words of Secretary Pompeo and the words of President (Donald) Trump to our president, 'We have your back,'" he added.

COMMENTARY: A renegotiated Mutual Defense Treaty is neither simple nor a panacea for bilateral ties

MDT covers South China Sea

Pompeo, meanwhile, assured the Philippines that the MDT would cover the South China Sea, where China had constructed artificial islands and installed military facilities.

"As the South China Sea is part of the Pacific, any armed attack on Philippine forces, aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea would trigger mutual defense obligations under Article 4 of our Mutual Defense Treaty," Pompeo said.

Improving the the capabilities of the Philippines to defend itself would be the country's priority for now, according to Locsin.

"The key word is mutual. We have our end to hold up as well and we need the means to do that from the United States. But ever and always there must be the sincere mutual desire to help and be helped," Locsin said.

During their meeting, Locsin and Pompeo also discussed Washington's support for the Armed Forces of the Philippines' modernization program.

The Foreign Affairs secretary is hopeful that the US would also assist the Philippines in its fight against terrorism and the illegal drug trade.

The two foreign ministers agreed that as allies, the Philippines and the United States should also be able to address other non-traditional security issues, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, as well as countering human trafficking.

"Ideally, mutual defense should cover a partner’s back as well as its front," Locsin said.

Under the MDT, the Philippines and the United States publicly declared they will defend themselves against external armed attack "so that no potential aggresor could be under the illusion that either of them stands alone in the Pacific area."

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: February 28, 2019 - 9:35pm

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to arrive in the Philippines today for a two-day visit. 

On the eve of his visit, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said the US official might discuss with President Rodrigo Duterte the two countries' mutual defense cooperation as well as freedom of navigation issues in the disputed South China Sea.

Hermogenes was optimistic that Pompeo and Duterte's meeting tonight would boost the Philippines' defense ties with its traditional ally amid the country's cozying up to China.

February 28, 2019 - 9:20pm

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shakes hands with President Rodrigo Duterte before their closed-door meeting where they are expected to tackle the two countries' mutual defense cooperation as well as freedom of navigation issues in the disputed South China Sea.

He arrived at the Villamor Air Base less than half an hour ago.





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