Locsin said he does not want to renegotiate the decades-old treaty with the US even as the Department of National Defense (DND) is seeking a review.
DFA chief: No renegotiation of MDT
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - July 25, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has refused to participate in any effort to renegotiate the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States.

Locsin said he does not want to renegotiate the decades-old treaty with the US even as the Department of National Defense (DND) is seeking a review.

“Except I refuse to renegotiate the MDT to make it more specific as DND wants because I believe with sound authority based on long learning of deterrence theory that in vagueness lies its greatest strength. Keep ’em all confused so they don’t stir lest they trigger World War 3,” Locsin tweeted.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is seeking a review of the MDT, saying the treaty is ambiguous on coming to the defense of the Philippines in cases of threats related to maritime domain in the South China Sea.

During his visit in Manila in March, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo gave assurance 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,” Pompeo had said.

During a joint press conference with Pompeo, Locsin said in “vagueness lies the best deterrence,” describing the MDT.

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

In April, Locsin said the US will remain the only military ally of the Philippines.

Locsin’s remarks imply that the long-standing US-Philippines alliance remains strong despite the apparent growing influence of China in the Philippines.

Lorenzana, for his part, said the Philippines lacked the necessary forces to join its ally, the US, in a coalition to safeguard the Persian Gulf.

“They can ask for assistance but we don’t have any assets to send there. We can’t send any ship,” Lorenzana said when asked if the Philippines, as an ally of US, is willing to participate in the coalition in the wake of the developing maritime tension in the Strait of Hormuz.

“We only sent observers and soldiers for peacekeeping operations, but not for activities that require capital assets like ships that we don’t have,” he said.

Reports said the US is proposing to enlist its allies in the coming weeks for a military coalition to protect oil tankers from being seized by suspected Iranian military units in the Persian Gulf. – Jaime Laude

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