Saturday, June 22, 2019

Panelo maintains MDT doesn't apply to Reed Bank incident

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 22, 2019): Panelo maintains MDT doesn't apply to Reed Bank incident

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo (File photo)

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Saturday reiterated that Senator Panfilo Lacson's proposal to invoke the Mutual Defense Treaty on the Recto (Reed) Bank incident involving a Filipino fishing boat was not possible.

Panelo made the statement anew after Lacson accused him of lawyering for China.

“It appears that my good friend Senator Ping Lacson is smarting from a response I made to his proposal to invoke the Mutual Defense pact with the US in relation to the Reed Bank incident. He said that we didn't have to wait for an armed aggression to take place before we invoke its application. I shot down the proposal by saying that the treaty cannot apply, simply because there is no armed aggression committed by China, adding that it was reckless and premature because we do not know yet what happened at the Reed Bank,” Panelo said in a statement.

He said the perception that he was lawyering for China was also not correct.

“As a lawyer I have been trained to dissect a situation, to arrive at an intelligent and rational study of the whys and wherefores of a subject of an inquiry,” Panelo added.

He reiterated that the incident was being “dressed with misplaced emotionalism and pretended nationalism by those who are bent on politicizing an otherwise ordinary navigation incident into an international fracas.”

Panelo said the politicization of the situation was being done by critics in the hope of convincing other nations that the Philippines was being subservient to China.

He said this was “both wrong and unacceptable.”

“While we are friendly to all countries and enemies to none, we remain steadfast in asserting and protecting our sovereignty against any assault and/or intrusion from whatever source. Our sovereignty, we repeat, is non-negotiable,” Panelo added.

He said that regardless of the nature of the incident, the government had condemned it as an “uncivilized and inhuman act.”

The Filipino fishermen were abandoned at sea by the crew of the Chinese vessel that hit their fishing boat. They were later rescued by fishermen from Vietnam.

“There must be accountability and compensation,” Panelo added.

He said both the Philippines and China must dig deeper into the incident to come up with a credible result that will put the issue to rest.

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