Just days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared the US to be committed militarily to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty with China, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has called for his side to conduct a review of the matter and decide whether they still want to be.
The question to be reviewed is whether this benefits the Philippines at all. Though the US is constantly reiterating its military support for the Philippines, Lorenzana noted that “the Philippines is not in a conflict with anyone and will not be at war with anyone in the future.”
The same can’t necessarily be said of the US, as Lorenzana noted that the US is a lot more likely to get into a shooting war with China than the Philippines is. He is concerned that the 1951 treaty would automatically suck the Philippines into a war they don’t want.
The Pentagon has openly been making “freedom of navigation” operations in the South China Sea specifically intended to needle China. Though this is presented as being done for the benefit of the Philippines and their maritime rights, the Philippine government didn’t ask them to, and doesn’t want that war, if the US can manage to provoke it. It is clear they feel the need to review the treaty before such a war starts, rather than after.
“The Philippines is not in a conflict with anyone and will not be at war with anyone in the future,” Mr. Lorenzana said.
Mr. Lorenzana said that “the United States, with the increased and frequent passage of its naval vessels in the West Philippine Sea, is more likely to be involved in a shooting war,” using the Philippine name for the disputed sea region.
Because of the treaty, he said, “the Philippines will be automatically involved” in any such conflict.
“It is not the lack of reassurance that worries me,” Mr. Lorenzana said. “It is being involved in a war that we do not seek and do not want.”