PH, US agree to review defense pact 

Credit to Author: The Manila Times| Date: Tue, 19 Nov 2019 10:45:09 +0000

THE Philippines and the US have agreed to revisit the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) to be based on the current security environment in the region.

Philippine and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and his US counterpart Mark Esper made the announcement at a joint news conference at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

“I was actually the one who first put forth the idea of revisiting the MDT because in my opinion, it has been made at the height of [a] war and the situation then compared to now is different,” Lorenzana told reporters.

Lorenzana has been calling for a treaty review since 2018 to include areas outside of the so-called “Metropolitan Philippines,” such as the Philippine-occupied islands and reefs at the Kalayaan Island Group. This will require the US to help the Philippines in case of any confrontation with foreign forces.

The “Metropolitan Philippines” is Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Esper welcomed the review, saying, “it’s always good to look at these things from time to time.”

“Review, clarify and strengthen it based on changes in the environment and world situation,” Esper said.

The review of the MDT will be raised during the Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board (MDB-SEB) meeting to be held sometime this year, he said.

“I don’t know what will be the outcome [of the meeting], it will be a joint cooperative endeavor,” Lorenzana said.

Esper said the new US defense strategy required Washington “to look at the world differently,” as well as dealing with different capabilities.

“I think for all those reasons, it could do so and for that, we are such strong and capable allies and we have such great friendship between our militaries and our people,” Esper said. DEMPSEY REYES