Keep it or scrap it

December 28, 2018
Delfin Lorenzana
Delfin Lorenzana

DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday hinted at the possibility of scrapping the US-Philippines defense deal as the Duterte administration moves to review the decades-old Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).

Lorenzana said that he wants to review the 1951 MDT (forged during the early years of the Cold War) to find out if its provisions are still relevant to the country’s national interest in the modern age.

The end-goal for the review of the defense treaty is to “maintain it, strengthen it, or scrap it,” he said at yesterday’s briefing in Malacañang.

Under the MDT, Washington and Manila agree to conduct joint military exercises. It also obliges American troops to help defend the Philippines if it comes under attack.

But the time to evaluate the treaty has come, especially to determine it if is still applicable today, Lorenzana said.

“When that [MDT] was done, there was a Cold War. Do we still have a Cold War today? Is it still relevant to our security? Maybe not,” Lorenzana said.

“Is this piece of paper (MDT) still relevant for our national interest? Does it support our national interest at this time, modern na tayo ngayon, not 1951... this is 2017-2018 so ito ba ay nakakasuporta pa sa ating national interest or not?” he said.

Asked if the review of the defense treaty was prompted by the Duterte administration’s warming relations with China, the defense chief said the review of the pact was due to “dynamics of what’s going on all over the world.”

“We are going to look at it in the backdrop of what’s happening in the area at saka ‘yung interest natin as a nation... not the interest of other nations, but our interest,” Lorenzana said.