MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr sees no need to review the nearly 7-decade Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the United States.
Locsin made the statement, which is contrary to the position of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, in a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after their meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pasay City on Friday, March 1.
“My own view is no. I believe in the old theory of deterrence. I have been an old man, I’ve engaged in the Cold War for longer than you. In vagueness lies the best deterrence,” he said when asked whether he was seeking a review of the MDT.
During the press briefing, Pompeo said US considers the South China Sea as covered by the MDT. (READ: South China Sea covered by PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty – Pompeo)
This long-awaited clarification means that any attack on a Philippine vessel in the disputed body of water would trigger the US to come to Manila’s aid.
Locsin, however, said that the MDT's “vagueness” makes it effective.
“How do you flesh out that vagueness? The repeated assurances by the United States that in the event of an act of aggression committed against the Philippines. I don’t believe that going down into the details is the way the sincerity of the American commitment can be shown. They will respond, depending on the circumstances,” he said.
Locsin said the Philippines feels "very assured, very confident" in the words of US officials led by US President Donald Trump to Philippine officials that "we have your back."
Pompeo had also assured Manila of the Trump administration’s “true commitment to making sure these seas (South China Sea) remain open.”
He described China’s island-building activities in the critical waterlane as threats to the Philippines, the US, and the entire region. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.