From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 7, 2019): US open to review 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty
US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim (right) and Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Enrique Manalo (PNA photo by Ben Briones)
The United States is open to a review of the 67-year-old Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between Washington and Manila, US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said Thursday.
"If there are any adjustments that would be useful, certainly we would welcome an opportunity to make adjustments," Kim told reporters during an interview at the sidelines of the US-Philippines Think Tank Conference in Makati City.
The envoy acknowledged the need to go over an agreement as "important" and as "complicated" as the MDT so as to adapt to the evolving alliance and circumstances surrounding the deal.
"We would welcome taking a close look at the treaty to see whether we can make any adjustments to make it even better than what it is now," he said.
Various delegations from the US will visit the Philippines in 2019, but whether any of the trip would be exclusively focused on the MDT review, the envoy said it has yet to be decided.
"I expect that throughout this year we will have a series of visitors. Now, whether any particular visit would exclusively focus on the review of the MDT that is still to be decided still, but we are, believe me, we are in very close contact with Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and DND (Department of Defense) Usec. (Cardozo) Luna," he said.
The 1951 MDT remains as the country's sole and longest running defense pact with another nation. The DND first floated the review calls in December 2018, citing the need to make the deal more relevant to the region’s changing security environment.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., in a message delivered by Undersecretary Enrique Manalo, said the Philippines-US defense and security cooperation remains "strong and robust."
As treaty allies, Locsin underscored that both countries continue to develop programs that would strengthen military capability and interoperability between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the US Forces, especially in addressing non-traditional security matters, such as fighting illicit drugs and terrorism.
Defense Undersecretary Cardozo Luna, who was also at the event, recognized the "gains" the country continue to reap with its longstanding alliance with the US.
But while the MDT has been the basis of the partnership, the official said "reviewing agreements is a normal course of action, especially since the MDT has been in force for over 60 years."