Del Rosario: Important for PH to work with US on sea dispute
We fully welcome the official US statement that, “As the South China Sea is part of the Pacific, any armed attack on Philippine forces, aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea would trigger mutual defense obligations under Article 4 of our Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).”
We view this as one of the most important statements made in the many decades since the MDT was ratified in 1951. It should be received as a positive and credible statement of US foreign policy that reaffirms its strong adherence to the rule of law.
Beyond the positive US declaration, it is essential for us to work with the US in redlining Scarborough Shoal so that any plans of Beijing to build artificial islands and militarize the area can be arrested.
There is vital urgency in doing this for the following reasons: On the one hand, to project its regional naval power, Beijing considers the Spratlys, the Paracels and Scarborough Shoal as its security triangle in the South China Sea. On the other hand, from our standpoint, Scarborough Shoal is only 124 nautical miles from our nearest shore.
With the US as our only treaty ally, we need to recognize the significance and importance of this alliance. We need to recognize that we are required to strengthen our own defense and security capabilities.
We also need to recognize that a stronger and faster buildup of our military capabilities can only be achieved with the help and commitment of our treaty ally.
ALBERT DEL ROSARIO, Former foreign secretary
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