Locsin: No need to review US-PH Defense Treaty

Robie de Guzman   •   March 2, 2019   •   2800

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodor Locsin Jr. And U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, prior to their meeting at the DFA Office in Pasay City, Philippines. Secretary Pompeo is on an official visit to the Philippines. / DFA photo by Clark Galang

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. believes that there is no need to review the United States’ Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines.

In a report on UNTV News and Rescue’s Ito Ang Balita by Nel Maribojoc, Locsin cited an “old theory of deterrence” in support of his opinion against reviewing the 68-year old defense deal during a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in Pasay City on Friday (March 1).

Locsin also expressed confidence in the repeated assurances of the US that it would assist the Philippines in case of an act of aggression.

“In vagueness lies the best deterrence. I don’t believe that going down into the details is the way the sincerity of the American commitment will be shown. They will respond, depending on the circumstances, ” he said.

Locsin, however, acknowledged that the proposal to review the treaty between Manila and Washington “requires further thought.”

It can be recalled that in 2018, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana sought a review of the 1951 US-PHL Mutual Defense Treaty over its relevance, given the Philippines’ dispute with China in the South China Sea. President Rodrigo Duterte, in the past several occasions, has also expressed doubt if the U.S. would ever come to the country’s aid against China’s growing aggression in the disputed territories.

Pompeo, meanwhile, assured the Philippines that the Mutual Defense Treaty would cover the South China Sea, where China reclaimed some reefs and built artificial islands.

Under the accord, the two countries will support each other in case of attack by an external party in the pacific region.

“China’s island building and military activities in the South China Sea threatened your sovereignty, security, and economic livelihood, as well as the United States. As the South China Sea is the part of the pacific, any armed attack on Philippine forces, aircraft , or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger mutual defense obligations under Article 4 of our Mutual Defense Treaty,” Pompeo said.

Malacañang, on the other hand, still wants to pursue the proposal for review despite the assurance given by Pompeo.

“I’m sure the Secretary of Defense, Lorenzana would want to review despite the pronouncement. There may be some kinks in that treaty that needs to be clarified. So, I think there is still a need to review despite the policy statement. We will have to evaluate,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said during an interview with Malacanang reporters on Friday.

Meanwhile, Washington’s top diplomat also committed to support the Philippine Armed Forces modernization program and strengthen the two countries’ cooperation in combating terrorism and illegal drug trade.

After meeting DFA Sec. Locsin, Pompeo met with a group of Filipino business leaders and visited the US Embassy in Manila before leaving the Philippines. – Robie de Guzman

PH sends two chartered planes to bring home Filipinos from virus-hit Japan cruise ship

Robie de Guzman   •   February 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Two planes of flag-carrier Philippine Airlines chartered by the government are on its way to Japan to pick up over 400 Filipinos who disembarked from the coronavirus-hit M/V Diamond Princess.

In a Twitter post, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Brigido Dulay said the first of two flights carrying the department’s rapid response team has left the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) around 11 a.m. Tuesday and is expected to land at Haneda Airport at 4:27 p.m.

In a separate tweet, the DFA said the second chartered flight for the repatriation is also ready to take off. Both flights are expected to carry back home more than 400 Filipinos from the virus-hit cruise ship.

Officials from the DFA and the Department of Health (DOH) are now at the Yokohama port for the disembarkation of the Filipino crew aboard the cruise ship, based on photos posted on DFA’s Twitter account.

A total of 538 Filipinos – 531 crew members and seven passengers – were aboard the cruise ship. Eighty of them so far have been found to be infected with the virus.

The cruise ship, moored off the Japanese coast in Yokohama near Tokyo, was placed on quarantine after one of its passengers tested positive of the novel coronavirus disease.

The vessel, which carried 3,700 passengers and crew, reported over 690 confirmed cases of virus infection with three deaths.

The DFA said the chartered flights are expected to return to Manila Tuesday night.

The repatriated Filipinos will then be brought to a facility at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

Filipinos infected with COVID-19 from Japan cruise ship rises to 80

Robie de Guzman   •   February 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The number of Filipinos who contracted novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after staying aboard the M/V Diamond Princess in Japan has climbed to 80 on Tuesday, authorities said.

“Per Tokyo PE, 80 Filipinos from the Diamond Princess cruise have so far tested positive for Covid-19,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido Dulay said in a Twitter post.

“10 have since been discharged w/ clean bill of health. Remaining Filipino crew for repatriation today have all tested negative,” he added.

In a separate media interview, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that most of the Filipinos found to be infected with the virus have been placed under isolation and treatment in Japanese hospitals.

Philippine authorities are set to repatriate Tuesday more than 400 Filipinos from the cruise ship.

Duque assured that they will be tested first to make sure that no one with an illness will come along the flight.

Those who will manifest symptoms will not be allowed to board the aircraft based on Japan’s quarantine laws.

Upon arrival in the Philippines, they will be brought to a facility at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier said that its personnel are now at the Yohohama Port for the disembarkation of the Filipino crew.

A total of 538 Filipinos – 531 crew members and seven passengers – were aboard the cruise ship when it was placed on quarantine after one of its passengers tested positive for novel coronavirus disease earlier this month.

The DFA, however, said that not all Filipino crew members will be able to return home as some of them will be needed to stay behind to help in the ship’s continued operation and maintenance.

DFA consular office operations suspended on Feb. 25

Robie de Guzman   •   February 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday, February 21 announced that operations at all its consular offices will be suspended on Tuesday, February 25.

In an advisory, the DFA said the suspension of operations, including the one in Aseana Business Park, is in observance of the anniversary of the EDSA Revolution, which is declared as a special non-working holiday.   

Applicants with confirmed appointments who will be unable to avail of consular services due to the suspension of operations will be accommodated until March 25 during regular hours, except on Saturdays.

Regular operations and services will resume on Wednesday, February 26, according to the DFA.

Applicants with emergencies may email oca.concerns@dfa.gov.ph for their concerns, it added.

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