Palace: Review of US-PH mutual defense treaty to resolve 'kinks'
T HE review of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the United States (US) remains necessary to address the "kinks" in the 68-year-old pact, Malacañang said on Friday, March 1.
"We will have to evaluate," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a press conference when asked if the Duterte government is still bent on reviewing the treaty aimed at boosting cooperation on defense between Manila and Washington.
Earlier Friday, March 1, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. stressed that there was no need to review the MDT despite Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana's call to review the supposed "ambiguous" provisions of the agreement.
Locsin made the remark following his meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pasay City.
The Philippines and the US signed the MDT on August 31, 1951 in a bid to boost the defense and security cooperation between the two nations.
Panelo said Lorenzana would still want to conduct a review of MDT, despite Locsin's pronouncement.
"I am sure the secretary of Defense, Lorenzana, would want to review despite the pronouncement," the Palace official said.
"There may be some kinks in that treaty that needs to be clarified... So I think there is still a need to review despite the policy statement," he added.
In a joint press conference with Locsin in Manila, Pompeo said the US would come to the Philippines' defense, in case of China's attack amid South China Sea disputes.
Pompeo gave the assurance, as he stressed that the US would honor the MDT with the Philippines in the wake of China's aggressive militarization of the resource-rich South China Sea.
Article 4 of the MRT states that an armed attack against any of the parties that would be dangerous to its own peace and safety "declares that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes."
"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 will trigger mutual defense obligations under Article 4 of our Mutual Defense Treaty," Pompeo said.
While the Duterte administration seeks to proceed with its plan to review the MDT, Panelo said the Palace was "pleased" by the US's policy statement with respect to attacks on Philippine troops.
"If they will support us, then we will take it as an observance of the Mutual Defense Treaty between the two countries," the Palace official said.
"Since that is the policy of the US, so there is no need as of now [to review the treaty], unless there are movements that will dispute or that will contradict what the US secretary of State said," he added.