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‘Irresponsible’ to invoke MDT with US over Recto Bank incident – Panelo

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By Prince Golez

Invoking the Philippines’ Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States following the collision of Filipino and Chinese vessels near Recto Bank was “imprudent” and “irresponsible,” Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after Senator Panfilo Lacson suggested the 1951 MDT may be tapped to settle territorial dispute at the West Philippine Sea.

“We thank the good Senator for his opinion. The government policy and action cannot be based on conjecture, speculation or even emotion,” said Panelo in a statement on Wednesday.

He explained there should be an armed aggression against our vessels first before the government can invoke its long standing military alliance with the United States.

“The facts have yet to be established pointing to the incident as an act of aggression by the Chinese government. 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,” according to him.

Panelo reiterated that Duterte was just being “cautious” in dealing with the incident and that the Filipinos’ interest is foremost in his mind.

“While we understand the emotional outcry of our citizens, we call on everyone to be circumspect in this time of confusion. There will be a time to demand for reparation once the facts have been established,” he said.

“Our immediate priority is looking out for the welfare of the affected 22 fishermen and for the safety of the entire Filipino fishing community, and even for the security of all our countrymen. The nation can rest assured that the President and the entire Government shall be relentless in its pursuit of justice for our fishermen and that strong action shall be made if and when the same is warranted.”

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