MANILA, Aug 24 (Mabuhay) — The head of the US Indo-Pacific Command has affirmed the US commitment to the seven-decades old Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) which the Philippines and US signed in 1951.

In his second visit to the Philippines Monday, US Indo-Pacific Command head Admiral John Aquilino met with senior government and military officials to commemorate the treaty’s 70th anniversary this month.

“Our alliance represents the mutual trust that is central to our enduring friendship, and this trust is a necessity in order to confront the security challenges in this theater,” he said.

The treaty, signed by the two nations on Aug. 30, 1951, called for both countries to support each other in case of armed attacks on each other’s territories, armed forces, public vessels and aircraft from a third party country.

“Both of our nations have made it clear that we are committed to the Alliance, and that we remain prepared to fight alongside and defend each other using all of our capabilities to preserve the region’s peace and stability,” he added.

The American military official met with Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr., Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana, and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Inspector General Lt. Gen. Franco Nemesio Gacal who represented Chief-of-Staff Lt. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr. who is now in self-isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus.

“The AFP welcomes Admiral John C. Aquilino as we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Mutual Defense Treaty, the birth of our defense alliance,” Gacal said.

Gacal said the meeting was “an opportunity to advance our mutual security interests and manifests both Armed Forces’ commitment to the alliance even in the midst of challenges brought by the pandemic.”

The trip marks Aquilino’s first visit to the Philippines as commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command.

He previously visited the Philippines as Commander of the US Navy Pacific Fleet in August 2018, meeting with Lorenzana and other Philippine defense officials to discuss opportunities to enhance military cooperation. (MNS

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