By Vince Angelo C. Ferreras
DEFENSE SECRETARY Delfin N. Lorenzana reiterated his call for a review of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the United States as the treaty has ambiguities that may cause “confusion and chaos.”
“I do not believe that ambiguity or vagueness of the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty [MDT] will serve as a deterrent. In fact, it will cause confusion and chaos during a crisis,” Mr. Lorenzana said in a statement on Tuesday, March 5.
Last week, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. said in a joint briefing with his visiting US counterpart, Michael R. Pompeo: “Some seek the review of the MDT. This requires further thought. In vagueness lies uncertainty, a deterrent. Specificity invites evasion and actions outside the MDT framework. But too much vagueness lends itself to doubt the firmness of commitment. For the time being, helping the Philippines build up our self-defense capacity should do it.”
For his part, Mr. Lorenzana said, “The fact that the security environment now is so vastly different and much more complex than the bipolar security construct of the era when the MDT was written necessitates a review of the Treaty.”
Mr. Lorenzana also said regarding Mr. Pompeo’s assurance of US support in an attack on the Philippines in the South China Sea: “It is not the lack of reassurance that worries me. It is being involved in a war that we do not seek and do not want.”
He added, “The Philippines is not in a conflict with anyone and will not be at war with anyone in the future. But the United States, with the increased and frequent passage of its naval vessels in the West Philippine Sea, is more likely to be involved in a shooting war. In such a case and on the basis of the MDT, the Philippines will be automatically involved.”