SOUTH China Sea tensions are on a knife-edge amid Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s ongoing row with China over a Philippine fishing vessel sunk in an alleged “hit and run” – and now the US could be dragged into the dispute.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after US Ambassador to the Philippines Kim Sung said foreign government-sanctioned attacks initiated by militia or armed civilians in the South China Sea may trigger the MDT of the US and the Philippines, the Manila Bulletin reports.
He said: “US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made clear that because the South China Sea is part of the Pacific, under the treaty itself, any armed attack on Filipino vessels, Filipino aircraft will trigger our obligations under the Mutual Defence Treaty.”
If the Philippines confirm the ship sinking, which happened in its territory near the Spratly Islands of the South China Sea, was indeed a deliberate attack Washington could be bound under the treaty to issue a military response.
An alternative option would be to present the case before the United Nations.