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‘Di kailangan ng pasabog! Lacson: Mutual defense treaty can be invoked to have US presence in West PH Sea

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Senator Panfilo Lacson believes an armed attack on any Philippine vessel in the Pacific isn’t necessary for the government to invoke the mutual defense treaty (MDT) with the United States.

In a statement Tuesday (June 18), Lacson said the Philippines can invoke the MDT to justify US presence in the West Philippine Sea.

The former Philippine National Police chief suggested using the MDT following the sinking of a Filipino boat by a Chinese vessel at Recto Bank near Palawan on June 9.

“[A]s 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,” he said.

Lacson said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles showed “backward thinking” by saying the MDT can only be invoked if there was an armed attack on any Filipino vessel in the West Philippine Sea.

Under the MDT, both the US and the Philippines are obliged to respond accordingly if a vessel belonging to either party, whether military or civilian, is attacked in the Pacific.

“We should not wait for an armed aggression against our vessels to occur before we invoke the treaty,” Lacson said. “Proactive thinking by way of increased US presence in the area is logical because of the prevailing situation in the West Philippine Sea.”

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