Lacson: ‘Reaffirmed’ US-PH Mutual Defense Treaty to Maintain Balance of Power in South China Sea

With the importance placed on it by the Biden administration, the US-PH Mutual Defense Treaty will help maintain the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific – including in the South China Sea, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said Thursday.

Lacson, who heads the Senate’s Committee on National Defense and Security, said this after State Secretary Antony Blinken spoke with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.

“There you go. The US-PH Mutual Defense Treaty is one yet untapped weapon in our arsenal. I certainly hope we do not draw that weapon. Meantime, we might as well keep it there,” he said on his Twitter account.

Related: Ping: Mas Tumibay na US-PH Mutual Defense Treaty, Pambalanse sa Situwasyon sa South China Sea

On Thursday, Blinken tweeted he had a “great conversation” with Locsin, adding they will “continue to build upon the strong U.S.-Philippine Alliance with our shared interests, history, values, and strong people-to-people ties.”

A statement by US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said Blinken and Locsin reaffirmed a strong US-Philippine Alliance is vital to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

It added Blinken “stressed the importance of the Mutual Defense Treaty for the security of both nations, and its clear application to armed attacks against the Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the Pacific, which includes the South China Sea.”

Also, Blinken underscored that the US rejects China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea to the extent they exceed the maritime zones that China is permitted to claim under international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, and pledged to stand with Southeast Asian claimants in the face of pressure from China.

On Wednesday, Sec. Locsin said the Philippines filed a diplomatic protest against a new China law allowing its coast guard to fire at foreign vessels in reefs claimed by China.