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âUS to remain Philippinesâ only military allyâ
Philippine and US Marines storm the beach to simulate a raid during the Balikatan 2018 joint military exercise at the Naval Education Training Command, a former US naval base that faces the West Philippine Sea, in San Antonio, Zambales in this photo taken on May 9, 2018.
Krizjohn Rosales

‘US to remain Philippines’ only military ally’

Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - April 8, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The United States will remain the only military ally of the Philippines, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said yesterday.

“Why the US, the only world power that is a bastion of democracy and human rights, is and will remain our only military ally. We don’t need any other,” Locsin tweeted.

During a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in Manila last month, Locsin had said, “in vagueness lies the best deterrence,” to describe the almost seven-decade-old Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).

The MDT provides that the Philippines and the US will come to each other’s aid in case of armed attack.

Locsin’s remarks were issued amid the apparent growing influence of China in the Philippines under President Duterte.

Pompeo assured the Philippines that US obligations under the MDT are “real.”

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

Since Duterte assumed office in 2016, he has set aside a landmark arbitral court ruling in exchange for economic grants from Beijing, investments and expanded trade, which have been described as a “policy of appeasement.”

The Philippines, Washington’s oldest ally in Asia, wants to have a bigger relationship with China that has a major presence in the Indo-Pacific region and looks at great economic opportunities.

Locsin also reacted to the US not joining the International Criminal Court. The ICC  announced it has started its preliminary examination on the killings tied to President Duterte’s war on illegal drugs.

The US, he said, never joined the ICC and warned the Philippines not to.

“Ignore it. I said at the UN that there is no power on earth that can enforce a judgment of the ICC. And no one disputed it. We’re well out of it and should never have gotten in against the advice of our only military ally: the United States of America,” Locsin said.

Resolution vs 5 US senators

Meanwhile, Sen. Panfilo Lacson yesterday pushed for a resolution to rebuke the five US senators, who earlier condemned what they said was the “ongoing human rights abuses” in the country.

Lacson, who chairs the committee on public order and dangerous drugs, said a Senate resolution “is appropriate to call out these five US senators.”

“We are not their colony. We have a Constitution that provides for three co-equal branches and a judicial system where due process is followed, regardless of its flaws and weaknesses,” he said through Twitter.

US Senators Edward Markey, Marco Rubio, Richard Durbin, Marsha Blackburn and Chris Coons earlier filed a six-page resolution expressing alarm over the human rights situation in the country.

The resolution also called on the Duterte administration to release detained Sen. Leila de Lima and end the harassment of veteran journalist and Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa.

“Extrajudicial killings in the Philippines have been a stain on the country’s human rights record,” Markey said.

“But rather than working with lawmakers, journalists and civil society in the Philippines to hold perpetrators for these crimes accountable, the Duterte government is turning the law against the very voices promoting the rights of the Philippine people,” he added.

The Philippines is a close ally of the US, according to Markey, but the resolution seeks to convey the sentiment of the US Congress in seeking “an immediate improvement in the government’s behavior and the end of efforts to weaponize the rule of law against brave individuals like Senator Leila de Lima and Maria Ressa.” – With Paolo Romero

MUTUAL DEFENSE TREATY PHILIPPINES UNITED STATES
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