MANILA, July 22 (Mabuhay) — Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday said he does not see any hostilities breaking out in the South China Sea (SCS) despite intensified exercises between the Philippines and the United States and its partners in the region.

“There is a provision in the MDT (Mutual Defense Treaty) that an attack to another is considered an attack to the other side. So the other country will come to the aid of the other country. But, even if there are intensifying exercises between the US and its allies in the region, ay hindi naman ako naniniwala na ito ay paghahanda para sa isang giyera dito sa (I do not believe it to be preparation for a coming conflict or war in the) South China Sea. Kasi (because) both countries, both superpowers, the US and China, (have) come out publicly that they do not want any conflict there in the South China Sea,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said during the Pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) Forum for the Security, Justice, and Peace Cluster on Wednesday.

He was responding to queries on whether the Philippines will respond to the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the US should conflict erupt in the region.

Signed in 1951, the MDT is an accord that stipulates that the Philippines and the United States would support each other if either of them were to be attacked by an external party.

Lorenzana said hostilities are unlikely as the SCS is a major trade route for ships coming to China.

“And according to (the) World Bank, more than US$6 trillion worth of goods passes that place, the South China Sea, every year,” Lorenzana said.

However, the DND chief said the Philippines can abide by the MDT but emphasized any move to invoke this will be thoroughly scrutinized by lawmakers.

“We will abide by the MDT dahil treaty yun ng bansa natin (because it our country’s treaty with the US) and I’m sure any incident there that will require the invocation of (the) MDT will go through the process here in our legislature, our government, before we participate in any conflict in the South China Sea,” Lorenzana said. (MNS)

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