Palace says PH can’t invoke US defense treaty in Recto Bank incident
Robie de Guzman • June 19, 2019 • 2326
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines cannot invoke its Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States (US) in the ramming incident involving Filipino and Chinese fishing vessels near Recto Bank (also called Reed Bank) in the West Philippine Sea, a Malacañang official said on Tuesday.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles explained that the mechanism of the MDT cannot be triggered in this incident because it does not constitute an armed attack.
“MDT can only be used if there is military act, aggressive armed attack, on a public vessel, on troops, on an airship,” Nograles said.
Nograles made the statement in response to Senator Panfilo Lacson’s suggestion to invoke the treaty as a last resort should the tension escalate between the Philippines and China over the Recto Bank incident.
Lacson earlier said the country can present to the US evidence about the incident, and invoking the treaty would justify its presence in the disputed waters to prevent further hostilities.
However, Nograles said that is not how the MDT works.
“If it is not a military attack, then I don’t think that mechanism is available. We’re not even going to start about that,” he said.
The MDT, signed by the Philippines and U.S. in 1951, states that both countries would assist each other when either one is attacked by a foreign force.
The treaty’s Article IV states that an armed attack against any of the parties “declares that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes.”
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, on the other hand, said that invoking the treaty with the US would be “jumping to conclusions” because the incident has yet to be considered an aggression.
“Hindi pa nga natin alam nga iyong ano, facts eh. Kung sinalakay tayo… hindi ba sabi ko, ‘Then that treaty will be in operation.’ But we don’t know the facts yet,” he said.
Duterte on Monday described the sinking as a maritime accident, which according to Panelo, was his way of trying to be cautious so as not to blow the issue into an international crisis.
Malacañang said that concerned investigating bodies are still conducting inquiry and fact-finding into the issue, headed by the Maritime Authority (Marina) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang dismissed Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon’s claim that the administration’s Build Build Build program is a dismal failure.
Drilon claimed that the administration has only started nine out of 75 flagship projects in the past three years in office.
“It is sad to say that the BBB program of the administration is a dismal failure. Out of the 75 flagship projects that were proposed at the start of the administration, exactly nine started construction,” Drilon told reporters.
“That is only two percent of the total,” he added.
But Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo was quick to dismiss Drilon’s claim as baseless stressing that the Duterte administration had accomplished more than the previous administration.
“Senator Frank, look at the administration you previously belonged. Six years, not a single infrastructure na nagawa (was completed). Malayong-malayo sa dami [nang nagawa ng administrasyon ngayon] (It doesn’t compare with the achievements of this administration),” Panelo said.
“It’s baseless […] maraming ginagawa ang administrasyon (this administration is working on a lot of projects),” he added.
Malacañang believes that the current management of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is effectively handling these projects.
Thus, Panelo said the Palace is confident that before President Rodrigo Duterte ends his term, majority of the projects under the Build, Build, Build program will be completed. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang does not deny being concerned about recent reports that the Philippines is currently the world’s top rice importer.
According to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, such report may be true but the government is making sure that the Department of Agriculture (DA) is on top of the situation.
“Ginagawa naman ni Secretary Dar ang kaniyang mga pamamaraan (Secretary Dar is finding ways) to solve whatever problems confronting the farmers,” Panelo said.
The report published by the United States’ Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Services (USDA-FAS) projected the Philippines rice importation to reach a record high by year-end – about 3 million metric tons – the highest in the world and the country’s highest ever recorded.
This projection is way higher than China, the biggest rice importer so far at 2.5 million metric tons by year-end.
Malacañang, meanwhile, blames the country’s lack of irrigation as the main reason for the increase in rice importation. – MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has announced that it is willing to scrap the government’s controversial anti-drug Operation Tokhang or Oplan Tokhang.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Monday (November 11) announced that the administration was allowing Vice President Leni Robredo to do whatever she wanted to do as the co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).
“As long as VP Leni is in charge, whatever she feels that should be enforced, we will do it. It is a ‘yes’ if she wants it,” Panelo said.
“She’s been given the authority. If she wants to scrap it, she’s the anti-drug czar. If she thinks there’s something more effective then she should do that,” she added.
However, former Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief now Senator Ronald dela Rosa, who launched the campaign in 2016, reacted to the Vice President’s proposal of scrapping Tokhang.
“I don’t admit that Oplan Tokhang is a failure,” he said.
He noted that if not for Oplan Tokhang, the PNP could not have arrested 130,000 drug personalities and could not have yielded 1.6 million surrenderers.
“What’s wrong with Oplan Tokhang? Baka hindi lang nila matanggap-tanggap talaga na itong Oplan na ito ay talagang sinira ang diskarte ng mga drug personalities dito (Maybe they just couldn’t accept that this Oplan ruined the schemes of drug personalities,)” Dela Rosa stressed.
Oplan Tokhang is the infamous anti-illegal drugs campaign that aims to encourage drug personalities to surrender to authorities but is also hounded by allegations of senseless killings.
President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Robredo to her new post after her series of rants against the government’s policies on eliminating illegal drugs.
Though Dela Rosa approved of Robredo joining drug raids, the former PNP Chief hit on the Vice President saying she should start working and prove herself in action first before asking for additional budget.
“Mahirap naman kakapasok mo pa lang funds na agad ang hinahanap mo. Dapat trabaho muna (It’s difficult to prioritize funds right after you take over the position. You should prove through actions first),” dela Rosa noted.
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