Senator Ping Lacson said in a statement that “as a result of the Reed Bank incident, the Mutual Defense Treaty can be used as a proactive and preemptive measure to justify US presence in order to avert whatever possible armed hostilities that could take place in the West Philippine Sea.”
“[T]he incident last week has already happened. But it serves as an eye opener for possible armed confrontation between our Armed Forces of the Philippines or Coast Guard and the Chinese military,” he added.
He added that the presence of US military in the West Philippine Sea can still accomplish the balance of power.
He also noted that the Philippines should not wait for an armed aggression against our vessels to occur before we invoke the treaty. “Proactive thinking by way of increased US presence in the area is logical because of the prevailing situation in the West Philippine Sea. As I said, what we are trying to accomplish is balance of power,” he said.
In response, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said “before we can invoke our Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States, there must first be an act of aggression against us.”
“Moreover, the MDT itself recognizes the primary use of peaceful means in resolving international disputes. Thus, invoking the strong medicine of the MDT at this time when facts about the maritime incident in our exclusive economic zone have not yet been firmly established would not only be imprudent, it would be irresponsible as well,” Panelo added.
“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is a thinking, cautious, and responsible President, and not irrational and reckless as others would paint him – or want him – to be. The interest of the nation is foremost in his mind when he undertakes an official act vis-à-vis other countries. While others may have the luxury of armchair expertise or backseat driving, the President, as Chief Executive, can ill afford to act on fragmented or incomplete information,” Panelo explained.