Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Tuesday, July 23, said he refuses to renegotiate the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States despite the Department of National Defense (DND) seeking a review.
“I refuse to renegotiate the MDT to make it more specific as DND wants because I believe with sound authority based on long learning of deterrence theory that in vagueness lies its greatest strength. Keep ‘em all confused so they don’t stir lest they trigger World War 3,” said Locsin in his tweet.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, on the other hand, has been pushing for a review of the MDT. According to him, the treaty is ambiguous on coming to the defense of the Philippines in cases of threats related to maritime domain in the South China Sea.
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, for his part, assured the Philippines that the U.S. obligations under the MDT are “real.”
“As the South China Sea is part of the Pacific, any armed attack on Philippine forces, aircraft, republic vessels in the South China Sea would trigger mutual defense obligations under Article 4 of our Mutual Defense Treaty,” Pompeo said during his visit in Manila last March.
Under the MDT, the Philippines and the U.S. are required to come to each other’s aid in case of an armed attack.
Locsin in April said the Philippines’ military ally remains to be only the U.S., implying that the two countries alliance is still strong despite the former’s growing relationship with China.
Lorenzana noted that the country lacks forces to join the U.S. for a military coalition to protect oil tankers from being seized by suspected Iranian military units in the Persian Gulf.
When asked if the Philippines, as the U.S.’ ally, is prepared to participate in the coalition in the wake of the developing maritime tension in the Strait of Hormuz, the defense secretary answered: “They can ask for assistance but we don’t have any assets to send there. We can’t send any ship.”
“We only sent observers and soldiers for peacekeeping operations, but not for activities that require capital assets like ships that we don’t have,” he added.