Carpio: Harris visit a message to China that PH will have capability to defend itself
MANILA, Philippines — The visit of United States Vice President Kamala Harris to the Philippines will send a message to China that the country will have the capability to defend itself against any armed attack or attempt to take over its islands, retired Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said Tuesday.
Carpio said the visit is a reiteration of the US defense commitments to the Philippines, including the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and the Enhanced Cooperation Agreement (Edca).
He said Harris’ visit to the Philippines is a message to China that the US will stand by its MDT commitment.
“They [US] want to repeat it to reassure everybody, not only the Philippines but other countries, and particularly, this is a message to China that the Americans will stand by their MDT commitment,” he said in an interview over ABS CBN News Channel.
Carpio added that the visit of the US Vice President is “important” since it is a message that the Philippines will have the capability to defend itself, especially with the Edca agreement with the US.
He said under Edca, the US will preposition its weapons and military equipment in Philippine military bases, particularly in Palawan, including the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).
Carpio said Filipino soldiers will be trained to use the HIMARS which can be used should there be conflict in the South China Sea.
“It is a message to China that the Philippines has the capability to defend Philippine-occupied islands in the Spratlys because right now we do not have that capability,” he said.
“China can just invade Pagasa and there’s nothing we can do but with the HIMARS and later on we will acquire anti-ship missiles, we have the means to prevent and to fight back,” Carpio added.
He said this message will deter China to initiate any attack on the Philippines.
“If we do not have deterrence, China will just walk over us and take over those islands. But if we have the capability to defend those islands, then China will think twice,” Carpio added.
During a courtesy call to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Monday, Harris reaffirmed her government’s commitment to the defense of the Philippines in the event of a military strike over the contested waters of the South China Sea.
Harris is set to go to Palawan on Tuesday to meet with members of the Philippine Coast Guard.
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