Nograles: Mutual defense treaty applicable only in case of ‘armed attack’
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States may only be invoked in case of an “armed attack,” a senior Palace official said Tuesday.
“[The] MDT can only be used if there is an armed attack on a public vessel, on troops, on an airship. That’s when the MDT takes effect,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles told reporters in Malacañang.
“If it is not a military attack then I don’t think that mechanism is even available. We’re not even gonna start talking about that. I don’t think…If you read the MDT [it’s] very clear, it’s a military attack. It’s only invoked [if there is military oppression],” he added.
Nograles issued the statement after Senator Panfilo Lacson said that the 66-year-old pact is the “only weapon in our arsenal” if the tension in the West Philippine Sea escalates following the ramming of a Filipino fishing vessel near Recto Bank.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said invoking the MDT now is like “jumping to a conclusion” as the government has yet to shed light on the incident in the Recto Bank involving a Chinese vessel.
“Ang ibig sabihin kasi nun may aggression, e wala hindi pa nga natin alam ang facts e. Kung sinalakay tayo, then that treaty will be in operation. But we don’t know the facts yet,” Panelo, who is also President Duterte’s chief legal counsel, said in a Palace briefing.
(That means there is an aggression, but we don’t know the facts yet. If they invaded us, then the treaty will be in operation. But we don’t know the facts yet.)
According to the Filipino fishermen, they were abandoned and left floating in open sea for hours after a Chinese vessel crashed into their boat F/B Gem-Vir 1.
However, the Chinese Embassy in Manila denied that their vessel abandoned the Filipino fishermen, claiming that it fled because it was besieged by other Philippine boats. (Editor: Eden Estopace)
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