President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, July 17, has called on the United States to invoke its Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the Philippines amid the maritime tension in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
“I’m calling now America. I’m invoking the RP-U.S. pact. I would like America to gather all their 7th Fleet in front of China. I’m asking them now. I will join them,” he said in an interview with Pastor Apollo Quiboloy.
The Seventh Fleet is the largest of the U.S. Navy’s forward deployed fleets, having at least 60 ships, 300 aircraft, and 40,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel.
“I will ride on the boat where the admiral of the U.S. is. I will drag along Carpio and the rest. When the Americans say, ‘We’re here now, ready,’ I will press them,” he added, referring to Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio who has been calling for Duterte to make a stronger stance against China in the West Philippine Sea.
“Maybe that would be the end of Palawan. Palawan may be devastated, occupied or their will be nuclear bombs. We will dry up. So nothing will grow here, we can just wait, just like a big hole coming our way, to suck us to eternity and then we can sing the ‘Mona Lisa.’ And they just lie there, and they die there,” Duterte continued.
The Philippines and U.S. signed the MDT in 1951, binding both countries to aid each other in the event of foreign aggression.
Under Article 4 of the MDT, 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 declares that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assured that the U.S. would respond to “any armed attack on Philippine forces, aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea.”
Suggestions about invoking the MDT with the U.S. were initiated after a Filipino fishing boat was hit by a Chinese vessel near Recto Bank. The 22-man crew of the fishing boat was left adrift in the open sea for hours until a Vietnamese boat helped and rescued them.