Defense pact with US needs to be updated, says PH envoy

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 05 2019 02:04 PM | Updated as of Mar 05 2019 02:31 PM

MANILA- The decades-old Mutual Defense Treaty of the Philippines and the United States needs to be updated to keep up with the changing times, Manila's envoy to Washington said Tuesday.

Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez made the remark in light of Washington's assurance of support to Manila in its sea dispute with Beijing.

"Because of the times, the technology and everything else, we need to update it to make it more relevant to the times," he told ANC's "Dateline Philippines."

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Washington's top diplomat last week assured Manila that the nearly 7-decades old defense pact covers its maritime dispute with China.

"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," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

Despite Pompeo's assurance, Malacañang said a review of the defense pact is still necessary to ensure that terms in the treaty are "clear-cut."

Romualdez said the South China Sea dispute is a "major concern" for the US in terms of ensuring freedom of navigation in the area.

"It's a major concern for a superpower like the United States. They want to make sure that that area is free and there's a continuing freedom of navigation," he said.

"We, of course, are continuing our dialogue with China," he added.

Following Washington's expression of support, Romualdez said its high-time for the Philippines to "modernize" its relationship with the US.

"Everything always needs to be updated to the times," he said.