Blinken reaffirms US commitment to MDT with PH

United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has assured President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. the US remains committed  to its decades-old to its 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the Philippines.

The US top diplomat made the assurance during his courtesy call and meeting with President Marcos at Malacañang. They both reiterated their commitment to further strengthen their bilateral relations.

“We’re committed to the Mutual Defense Treaty. We’re committed to working with you on shared challenges. What’s so striking to me, Mr. President, is that working together on bilateral relations between us, we’re working together in the region, and increasingly, we’re working globally,” Blinken said.

The MDT, a bilateral accord, stipulates that the Philippines and the US would support each other if either of them were to be attacked by an external party.

Blinken described the US commitment to the MDT as “ironclad,” adding that “an armed attack on Philippine Armed Forces public vessels or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke the US Mutual Defense commitments under that treaty.”

Aside from securing the Philippines’ maritime domain, he said the US will continue to partner with Filipino fishermen and scientists to preserve their maritime resources, which he said are under threat from illegal fishing.

Marcos, however, said the 70-year-old joint defense pact is in “constant evolution.”

“As I spoke with your Ambassador sometime when she came,  we cannot, we can no longer isolate one part of our relationship from the other. We are too closely tied because of the special relationship between the US and the Philippines, and the history  we share.”

Marcos also acknowledged the assistance and support the US has given the Philippines over the years, noting that it could no longer be “categorized as one thing or another because they cover such a large scope.”

In a statement, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles shared that  apart from defense and security cooperation, Blinken and  President Marcos also discussed other issues like renewable energy, climate change mitigation, agriculture, food security, and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cruz-Angeles said Blinken also hailed Filipino nurses in the US, calling them “angels who are caring in so many ways.” 

Blinken’s recent visit to Manila was his first since he assumed office in January 2021. Joining him in his meeting with President Marcos were Ambassador MaryKay Loss Carlson, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink, Director of the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff Salman Ahmed, Spokesperson Ned Price, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Thomas Sullivan, and Political Counselor Brett Blackshaw.