Ex-DFA chief: No Mutual Defense Treaty review for now
Former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario maintained that the United States’ assurance that “any armed attack on Philippine forces, aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea would trigger the mutual defense treaty (MDT)” serves as fair warning to China.
This, he said, would make a review of the Philippines-US MDT unnecessary for now.
The assurance, given by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a recent state visit to the Philippines, was “one of the most important statements made in the many decades since the MDT was ratified in 1951,” Del Rosario said.
“It was, furthermore, an imperative for our disruptive northern neighbor to be forewarned of the significance of our MDT alliance,” he added, referring to China.
“As adequate as it may already be, our MDT can no doubt be improved, but it is the wrong time to do this, not when we have willingly allowed ourselves to have been made increasingly weakened by our northern neighbor’s doctrine of domination,” Del Rosario said.
Foreign Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. similarly maintained his stand against a review of the country’s MDT with the United States.
Contradicting Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s position, Locsin said the MDT serves as a deterrent against being dragged into war unwillingly.
“A mutual defense treaty means neither side will see itself dragged into a war because an attack on one is taken as an attack on the other—two sides of one coin,” Locsin tweeted on Wednesday afternoon.
“We seek not wardship but mutual defense,” he added.
Lorenzana on Tuesday insisted on a review of the MDT, saying that ambiguities must be cleared so the Philippines would not get embroiled in a war.
“I do not believe that ambiguity or vagueness (in the MDT) will serve as a deterrent. In fact, it will cause confusion and chaos during a crisis,” said Lorenzana, publicly disputing Locsin’s statement before Pompeo.
On Wednesday, Locsin discussed the South China Sea dispute with Vietnam Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh who came to Manila.
In a joint press briefing, Pham said he and Locsin both affirmed the importance of maintaining peace, stability and security of navigation in the contested seas, and respecting the diplomatic and legal processes as well as international law in handling international dispute. —With a report from Dona Z. Pazzibugan
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