Hawaii meeting shows US still PH’s traditional ally: Malacañang

By Jelly Musico

May 21, 2018, 4:03 pm

MANILA -- The recent “high-level” meeting between the Philippines and United States officials in Hawaii shows that the US remains as the country’s traditional ally despite President Rodrigo Duterte's push for an independent foreign policy, Malacanang said Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano flew from the Middle East to Hawaii where he joined Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and other officials to meet outgoing US Pacific Command (PACOM) chief Admiral Harry Harris Jr. over the weekend.

The Philippine delegation was also joined by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) acting Secretary Eduardo Ano, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Teodoro Locsin Jr.

“Well, I can only surmise that the visit is intended to reassure the US that while we are pursuing an independent foreign policy, we have not actually abandoned our traditional ally, the United States,” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

“That’s probably to reassure that we value the continued friendship and security cooperation that we have had with the United States throughout the years,” he added.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Philippines and the US have reaffirmed during the meeting their commitment to boost their alliance under the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) signed in 1951.

The treaty provides that both countries would give each other assistance in case of an armed attack.

Roque explained that the MDT can be applied only if there is an actual attack on the Philippine territory or any of the islands.

“In the absence of an actual attack, the Mutual Defense Treaty is inapplicable,” Roque said. (PNA)