MANILA – Invoking the Philippines' defense treaty with the US to respond to renewed tension in the South China Sea will be "reckless," President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman said Wednesday, in response to a lawmaker's suggestion.
Under the Mutual Defense Treaty, Washington can send patrols to the disputed waters and can make China pause its actions, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said.
Manila over the weekend accused a Chinese boat of hitting a Filipino fishing vessel off Reed Bank (called Recto Bank by the Philippines), causing it to sink and abandoning its 22 Filipino fishermen at sea.
"That’s what we call reckless. We don’t even know what happened, yet you want us to consider what happened as an aggression?” Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo told ANC’s Early Edition.
Lacson had said that invoking the MDT would not necessarily lead to war, which something that two world superpowers would not allow.
Duterte on Monday called for calm in his first public comments about the June 9 incident. He described the sinking as a “maritime incident” and should not be blown out of proportion.
Manila has filed a diplomatic protest over the incident.