Sunday, January 5, 2020

MDT does not oblige PH to send troops to Iraq in case of war — Lorenzana

From the Manila Bulletin (Jan 5, 2020): MDT does not oblige PH to send troops to Iraq in case of war — Lorenzana (By Martin Sadongdong)

Despite the existence of the 67-year-old Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), the Philippines is not obliged to send soldiers as support force to the United States in case it engages in a war with Iran due to the killing of the latter’s top general upon the orders of US President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana disclosed Sunday.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (CZAR DANCEL / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Lorenzana, in a message to the Manila Bulletin, said the Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and US only covers conflict in areas within the Asia-Pacific region.

“I believe that the MDT covers only conflicts here in our region,” Lorenzana said.

Signed on August 30, 1951 in Washington, D.C. the MDT states that both the Philippines and US would support each other if either nations were to be attacked by a third-party country. The provisions of the accord were detailed in eight articles.

Under Article IV, it was stated that: “Each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific area on either of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declare that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes.”

Meanwhile, Article V states that “an armed attack on either of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the metropolitan territory of either of the Parties, or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific Ocean, its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.”

Lieutenant General Felimon Santos Jr., newly-designated Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said the military will adhere to the policies of the national government if so it decides to send troops to help US.

“Whatever the policy of the government, we will do it,” Santos said.

“That will be reviewed by the national government and, of course, the Armed Forces,” he stated.

Despite this, the Defense department is continuously monitoring the escalating tension between Washington and Tehran especially since there are over 1,100 Filipinos in Iran as of its record in 2017 — most of them are overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Lorenzana said that they will wait for the recommendations of the concerned agencies if there is a need to fetch the OFWs in the conflict zone.

“On our OFWs, let us await the recommendations of the DFA [Department of Foreign Affairs] and the DOLE [Department of Labor and Employment],” he said.

Talks of an impending war between the US and Iran surfaced when Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top general, was killed in a drone airstrikes at the Baghdad International Airport in Iraq last Friday.

Also killed was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi-Iranian military commander who headed the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an Iraqi state-sponsored umbrella organization that fought major battles against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The Pentagon confirmed the attack was ordered by Trump to neutralize Soleimani, who commanded the Quds Force, a division that is responsible for extraterritorial military and clandestine operations of Iran, and said to be the brains behind the death of thousands of Americans in the Middle East.

Iran President Hassan Rouhani said that they “will take revenge for this heinous crime.”

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