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IN WAKE OF RECTO BANK INCIDENT

Treaty with US is only ‘weapon’ in PH arsenal, says Lacson

/ 11:08 PM June 17, 2019
Lacson urges ‘leader-to-leader talk’ after Recto Bank collision

Sen. Panfilo Lacson. (File photo by RICHARD A. REYES / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — Following the collision between Filipino and Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Monday said the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the United States would be “the only weapon in our arsenal.”

“No less than [US Secretary of State] Mike Pompeo said as much recently,” Lacson said on Twitter. “We’re not praying for WW3 [World War 3], just a balance of power being felt in the WPS, unless we can stomach being pushed around forever. Just a thought.”

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Lacson made the comment in response to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., who echoed President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement about not sending the Navy to meddle in the Recto Bank incident.

“Beautiful. ‘…you do not send gray ships there…’ That’s how we give China and the US an excuse. We had only one ship nearby — gray — and it militarized the Scarborough confrontation giving US excuse to drop us,” Locsin said in a tweet.

The phrase “gray ships” refers to Philippine Navy vessels.

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During his speech at the 121st Philippine Navy anniversary, Duterte dubbed the incident as a “little maritime accident” and asked the Navy and the troops to “stay out of trouble.”

“Pero ’yang nangyari diyan sa banggaan — that is a maritime incident. Huwag kayong maniwala sa mga politiko na bobo. Gusto papuntahin yung Navy. You do not send gray ships there. Banggaan lang ng barko ’yan. Do not make it worse,” the President said. “Just build on our own. Huwag muna tayong makialam.”

[But what happened in that collision — that is a maritime incident. Don’t believe the stupid politicians. They want to send the Navy. You do not send gray ships there. That’s just a collision between boats. Do not make it worse. Just build on your own. Let’s not meddle for the time being.]

READ: Duterte breaks silence on sinking of PH boat: ‘It’s a little maritime accident’

‘US commitments to MDT are clear’

Last March 1, Pompeo made a stopover in Manila after the US-North Korea summit in Vietnam. In one occasion, he said the US government’s “commitments” under the MDT “are clear, our obligations are real.”

Pompeo added that “the [West Philippine Sea] is certainly part of an important body of water for freedom of navigation.”

“We remain committed to supporting not only the Philippines in that effort, and the Philippines needs to do its part as well, but all the countries in the region so these incredibly vital sea-lanes remain open and China does not pose a threat to closing them down,” Pompeo said.

The President also expressed his intention of maintaining a strong relationship between the two nations, particularly in defense and security, as well as in peace and order.

READ: US vows PH defense vs attack in South China Sea

Under Article 4 of the MDT, in case of an armed attack in the Pacific area, each party “would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes.”

In several occasions, Locsin also said that the United States remained the Philippine’s “only military ally.”

“The US is and will remain our only military ally. You can’t make an ally out of a near power — too close for comfort,” Locsin a tweet posted last April.

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(Editor: Alexander T. Magno)

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TAGS: MDT, Mutual Defense Treaty, Panfilo Lacson, PH-China Relations, PH-US Relations, Recto Bank incident, Reed Bank incident, Rodrigo Duterte, Teodoro Locsin Jr.
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