In this Feb. 4, 2019 photo, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana speaks about national sovereignity during a National Defense college of the Philippines Alumni forum dubbed as “The National SecurityOutlook for the Philippines in 2019” held at Camp Aguinaldo.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
DND stands firm on need to review US-Philippines treaty
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( - March 1, 2019 - 5:03pm

MANILA, Philippines — Despite the opinion of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin that there is no need to review the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the United States and the Philippines, the position of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on the matter remains.

Lorenzana earlier proposed reviewing the provisions of the agreement between the two countries given mounting security concerns in the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea.

The Defense chief wants Washington to give a definitive stand on whether it would obligate its troops to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines in case the country is attacked by other claimants states.

Locsin said recommendations to review the MDT would require further thought as he considers the deal's vagueness as a deterrent.

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

Department of Defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong acknowledged Locsin's remarks that ambiguity serves as a deterrent but also stressed that present security conditions in the country have changed.

"The fact that certain conditions that now exist in our security environment, which were not present in the 50s, 60s and 70s, make a review necessary today," Andolong said in the statement.

This is the main reason why Lorezana's proposal to review the agreement has not changed, the Defense mouthpiece added.

"For now, we prefer not to elaborate on the issue any further so as not to preempt the review and compromise what you call 'vagueness' in the MDT," Andolong said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on the other hand, has assured the Philippines that the MDT covers the South China Sea.

The top American diplomat pointed out that China's island-building and military activities on its artificial islands in the South China Sea violate Philippine sovereignty.

"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.

Pompeo stressed that the US, under the Trump administration, is committed to ensuring that all countries have access to the disputed South China Sea.

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