PHL, US to discuss MDT in September: envoy

The Philippines and the United States are expected to hold the regular Mutual Defense Board (MDB) meeting this September, with the proposals to update the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) among its agenda, Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez bared.

“We have what we call the Mutual Defense Board. Mutual Defense Board has been in place for maybe 20 years or so and they meet as often as possible. I think September is when they plan to have their MDB, this was decided during the Bilateral Strategic Dialogue,” he said in a recent interview.

In 2018, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana floated the idea to update the 1951 MDT, citing the need to make the pact more relevant to the region’s changing security environment. On the other hand, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. maintained that he sees no need to review the 68-year-old agreement.

In a tweet on Tuesday, he said he refuses to renegotiate the MDT to make it more specific as the Department of Defense wants. This, as he repeated his belief “based on long learning of deterrence theory, that in vagueness lies its greatest strength.”

“Keep ’em all confused so they don’t stir lest they trigger World War 3,” he stressed on his official Twitter account.

When asked about the government’s official position on updating the agreement’s language, Romualdez did not provide a categorical answer, instead he cited the MDB as the perfect venue to discuss and sort this issue out.

“What is the venue for it? The MDB. So that is what is going to be convened… well it’s not convene, it’s like a regular thing because that is where we also discuss EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement), this is just one part of the agenda so to speak,” he said. “Issues that are being asked will be answered.” PNA