Philippines, US in talks to ‘strengthen’ Mutual Defense Treaty
(Philstar.com) – July 16, 2019 – 1:52pm
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and the United States are in talks to strengthen the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.
Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez announced this in a press conference following the 8th US-Philippines bilateral strategic dialogue.
“There is a mechanism — the mutual defense board — where the two sides talk about, not necessarily issues, but things to strengthen our relationship about our defense treaty,” Romualdez said.
According to Romualdez, the board is scheduled to meet in September.
In a joint statement released after the dialogue, the two countries affirmed the importance of a strong Philippines-US alliance in enhancing security cooperation and promoting regional stability.
“They recalled Secretary Pompeo’s statements on the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) during his March 2019 visit to Manila, particularly the clarification that the South China Sea (SCS) is in the Pacific, and that any armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the SCS will trigger Article IV of the Mutual Defense Treaty,” the statement read.
During his visit to Manila in March, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assured the Philippines of US protection in case of any armed attack in the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had suggested reviewing the provisions of the MDT, particularly Washington’s position amid brewing tensions in the South China Sea.
The Defense chief said the West Philippine Sea, where the country has sovereign rights, should be covered by the treaty to obligate the US to assist the country in case of any attack by other states.
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