‘I’m calling now America’: Duterte invokes defense pact with US
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he is now invoking the Philippines’ Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States amid the country’s maritime dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea.
“I’m calling now America. I’m invoking the RP-US pact. I would like America to gather all their Seventh Fleet in front of China. I’m asking them now. And I will join them,” Duterte said in an interview over Pastor Apollo Quiboloy’s television program.
The President added that he will drag the critics of his stance in the West Philippine Sea dispute, namely, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and former Foreign Affairs chief Albert del Rosario, to go to war with him.
“I will ride on the boat where admiral of the US. But I will drag along this Carpio and the rest of Albert. When the Americans say, ‘we’re here now’, ready, I will press the (button),” he said.
“Maybe that would be the end of Palawan. Palawan may be devastated, maybe occupied or if there will be nuclear bombs it will dry up. So nothing will grow here, we can just wait, just like a big hole coming our way, to suck us to eternity,’ he added.
The six-decades old peace accord dictates that both nations would support each other if either the Philippines or the US were to be attacked by an external party.
Maritime peace in the disputed territories was again tested when a Chinese trawler rammed and sunk a Filipino fishing boat in Recto Bank, an area within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The crew of a passing Vietnamese boat rescued the 22 distressed Filipino fishermen.
Malacañang earlier dismissed as “reckless” and “premature” invoking the defense pact with the US over the Recto Bank incident.
The Philippines, along with fellow Southeast Asian nations Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam, have overlapping claims in the South China Sea / West Philippine Sea, along with China, which is expanding and militarizing territories that it claims in the maritime region. /gsg
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