Duterte told to go after Mutual Defense Treaty if he wants reset of PH-US relations

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 16 2021 02:41 PM

Duterte told to go after Mutual Defense Treaty if he wants reset of PH-US relations 1
Philippine and US marines simulate an amphibious landing as part of the annual joint military exercise in San Antonio, Zambales on May 9, 2018. Ted Aljibe, AFP/file

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte should go after the Mutual Defense Treaty of the Philippines and the United States if he wants the latter to keep its end of the agreement, a military and political analyst said Tuesday.

"Kung gusto ng Presidente magkaroon ng reset ang RP (Republic of the Philippines)-US relations, Mutual Defense Treaty ang pakialaman niya, hindi itong mga legs ng Mutual Defense Treaty," University of the Philippines professor Clarita Carlos said, referring to the 1951 security pact of the two countries.

(If the President wants a reset of the RP-US relations, he should go after the Mutual Defense Treaty and not the legs of the MDT.)

"'Yung hinihingi niyang to pay up for continued military exercises..., lahat naman yun - (Visiting Forces Agreement), (Mutual Logistics Support Agreement), (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement), lahat yan was a mutual agreement ng dalawang bansa. And we’re not talking cashier diplomacy here," Carlos told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(What he's asking for - payment for continued military exercises--all those - the VFA, MLSA, EDCA are mutual agreements of the two countries. And we're not talking cashier diplomacy here.)

Duterte earlier said the US must "pay" a certain toll if it wants to keep its VFA with the Philippines, which drew criticism from Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Panfilo Lacson.

Carlos, a senior consultant of the Presidential Commission on Visiting Forces Agreement for five years now, said the military cooperation of Manila and Washington have yielded benefits, albeit not much of those have been publicized.

"People who are shooting off their mouths and do not know the situation on the ground, please shut up already kasi iba talaga ang nangyayari sa ground at iba ang datos (because it's different from what's happening on the ground and what the data show)," she said.

The joint training of the two nations' militaries has also shifted to humanitarian assistance and disaster resilience under the VFA, Carlos said.

"Yun kasing datirati, we train to fight together. Ngayon, ang enemy naman is not any one country. The enemy is climate change," she said.

(Before, we train to fight together. Now the enemy is not any one country, The enemy is climate change.)

Carlos, who also served as president of the National Defense College of the Philippines, acknowledged that the MDT does not contain a provision automatically allowing the US to respond to an attack against Philippines.

The treaty also only specifies a metropolitan attack, she added.

"Sabi ni (former US Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo, (incumbent US Secretary of State Antony) Blinken na sasagipin namin kayo…Laway lang naman yun eh. 'Di yun nakasaad sa tratado," she said.

(Pompeo, Blinken said they will come to our rescue... Those are just their statements. It's not in the treaty.)

Carlos said that unlike America's security deal with Japan, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) which, according to her, provide for "automaticity", the PH-US MDT requires Washington to go through a process first before it could respond should Manila come under attack by a third party.

"'Wag yung VFA ang tugisin niya. MDT mismo," she reiterated her advice to Duterte, adding, "Mutuality is the name of the game."

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