After initially using strong words to condemn the Reed Bank incident, it looks like the Palace is changing tack. Here are the stories making the headlines on ANC today:
The usually straight-shooting Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana will be in a forum today at 9 a.m. to talk about the Reed Bank incident. Will he walk back his initial strong statement on the incident some more? The Palace already expressed doubts over the statements of the Filipino fishermen. Sen. Ping Lacson came out swinging and expressed disappointment over President Duterte’s statements on the issue. Lacson will be in a 10:30 am forum. Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo will be on ANC’s Early Edition. Wilfrido Villacorta, former ambassador to ASEAN will be on ANC’s Headstart.
Speaking of the ASEAN, there’s an upcoming ASEAN summit this weekend but things are heating up this early for the forum. The Reed Bank incident and other issues related to the South China Sea are expected to be tackled. DFA Assistant Sec. Junever Mahilum-West said the summit can take up the issues. But the summit may not be the proper venue to take it up in detail, she said. Expect China’s allies in the ASEAN to make sure of that.
Bringing out the big guns
Can the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the United States be invoked in the case of the Reed Bank incident? In March, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said any armed attack on the Philippines forces in South China Sea can trigger the treaty. After the Reed Bank incident, US Ambassador to Manila Sung Kim said foreign government-sanctioned attacks initiated by a militia or armed civilians in the South China Sea was enough. Sen. Ping Lacson said the MDT is our only weapon if tensions in the disputed area escalate and that we shouldn’t wait for armed aggression before invoking the treaty. The Palace said it’s premature to say the Reed Bank incident can trigger the MDT.
Murder by numbers
Numbers from the PNP said 6,000 drug suspects have been killed in the Duterte administration’s war on drugs. That’s around 2000 killed for each year President Duterte has been in office. Human rights advocates said the number could be higher.
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