Tolentino disagrees PH can invoke MDT after laser attack: ‘It’s not yet there’
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines cannot invoke yet its Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States after China’s harassment of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) using a “military-grade” laser, Senator Francis Tolentino believes.
Tolentino, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, disagreed on Wednesday with the remark of retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who said that the incident warrants the use of the MDT.
“I respectfully disagree. It’s not yet there. It’s almost there. Probably, an armed attack can be considered as one that would be lethal,” Tolentino said on ANC Rundown when asked if he agrees with Carpio.
“It shows the heightened provocative action being done by the coast guard of China and it’s nearing that point,” he added.
Tolentino was then asked what actions would warrant the Philippines to tap the MDT.
He replied: “When the ship is attacked that would, perhaps, endanger the lives of the crew; when it would be disabled; when a maneuver is done that would disorient, not just the crew members, but, perhaps, would lead to almost capsizing.”
On February 6, the PCG was harassed by a Chinese Coast Guard in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea using a “military-grade laser,” temporarily blinding its crew members.
China, however, argued that the PCG was in their maritime territory, the Ren’ai Reef.
The Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest over the incident.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian following the harassment.