December 12, 2023
MANILA – The United States (US) once again upheld its commitment to its defense treaty with the Philippines following China’s reckless maneuvers against Philippine vessels in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) over the weekend.
“We reaffirm that Article IV of the 1951 US – Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty extends to armed attacks on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft – including those of its Coast Guard – anywhere in the South China Sea,” said US Department of States Spokesperson Matthew Miller in a statement issued Monday (Philippine time).
China, in two separate incidents over the weekend, fired water cannons and went on reckless maneuvers against Philippine vessels in WPS.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. himself said China’s actions have steeled the Philippines’ determination to defend and protect its sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction in WPS.
Miller, on the other hand, labeled China’s actions as unlawful, saying it undermined regional stability.
“By impeding the safe operations of Philippine vessels carrying provisions to Filipino service members stationed at Second Thomas Shoal, China interfered in lawful Philippine maritime operations and in Philippine vessels’ exercise of high seas freedom of navigation,” he said.
“Obstructing supply lines to this long-standing outpost and interfering with lawful Philippines maritime operations undermines regional stability,” said Miller.
“These actions reflect not only reckless disregard for the safety and livelihoods of Filipinos but also for international law,” he cautioned.
Miller then called on China to abide by the 2016 arbitral decision and desist from its “dangerous and destabilizing conduct.”
In October, the US reaffirmed its Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines after a Chinese maritime militia rammed Philippine navy boats en route to a resupply mission for troops stationed on Ayungin Shoal.