DND chief: Study of mutual Defense pact on
The Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the United States has been put under a “low-level” review by the governments of both countries, in the light of threats from President Duterte about canceling defense agreements with the United States.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said “low-level” staff were currently conducting an “exploratory study” on how both sides could “move forward.”
“A low-level review is ongoing on both sides and the result will be discussed in the next [Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board meeting],” he said.
Lorenzana made the statement in the light of his pronouncements during Thursday’s Senate hearing of the committee on foreign relations on the impact of the imminent cancellation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
The Department of National Defense earlier said it had begun assessment on the possible impact of the scrapping of the VFA, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and the MDT.
He told senators that the US government objected to his proposal last year to review the 1951 MDT.
Under the treaty, the Philippines and the United States shall come to each other’s defense in case of an armed attack on either country.
The defense chief, however, clarified reports quoting him that the United States had “rejected” his MDT review proposal.
“I did not say that they [US] rejected it. Initially, they said they prefer that we do not touch the document,” he said in a Viber message to reporters.
Lorenzana said he had wanted a review to clarify what was really covered by the MDT, due to a “disconnect” in both countries’ interpretation of coverage of the treaty.
“For them Scarborough Shoal is not part of the metropolitan Philippines. For us, ever since the Spanish time, it’s part of our territory,” the defense secretary said during the Senate hearing.
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