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23/06/2011: Secretary Clinton Assures Secretary Del Rosario that the US will Honor its Commitment under the PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty

Shown in the photo above are Secretary Albert del Rosario (center) with Secretary Hillary Clinton (left) and Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. (right).

23 June 2011, Washington DC. Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton assured Foreign Secretary Albert F. del Rosario that the United States will honor its commitment to the Philippines under the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) during their meeting today at the State Department.

According to the Treaty, “each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on either of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes.”

Noting that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the MDT which was signed by the Philippines and the US in 1951, Secretary Clinton said that the Treaty “continues to serve as a pillar of our relationship and a source of stability in the region.”

The Secretaries discussed the situation in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), also known as the South China Sea (SCS), and shared the view that recent incidents there are a source of concern and could undermine regional peace and stability.

They  agreed to consult closely on ways to protect their shared interest in  maintaining freedom of navigation, respect for international law, and unimpeded lawful commerce in the West Philippine Sea. Secretary del Rosario conveyed the Philippine government’s resolve to strengthen its capabilities to defend its maritime territory “because the Philippines is prepared to do what is necessary to stand up to any aggressive action in our backyard.”

He welcomed Secretary Clinton’s statement that the US “is determined and committed to supporting the defense of the Philippines, and that means trying to find  ways of providing affordable material and equipment that will assist the Philippine military to take the steps necessary to defend itself.”

Secretary del Rosario stressed that international law, particularly the UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea) is the Philippine basis for defining its territory and maritime entitlements in the WPS.  He briefed Secretary Clinton on the Philippines’ proposal on how to transform the WPS or SCS from a zone of dispute to a Zone of Peace, Friendship, Freedom and Cooperation (ZoFFP/C).

The Secretaries exchanged views on a range of bilateral issues, including the Bilateral Strategic Dialogue; the $434 Millennium Challenge Compact to reduce poverty, improve infrastructure and revenue collection; cooperation in counterterrorism; and the Partnership for Growth (PFG) which is a joint endeavor “to unlock the Philippines’ potential for sustained and broad-based economic growth.” Secretary Clinton commended the Philippine government’s aggressive prosecution of the suspects in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre. She also thanked the Philippine government for its decisive actions to combat trafficking and gave assurances that the next Trafficking In Persons (TIP) report will take into account the government’s accomplishments.

They also exchanged views on how the Philippines and the US can work together in multilateral fora such as the ASEAN Regional Forum and the East Asia Summit.

Secretary Clinton expressed appreciation for Secretary del Rosario’s acceptance of her invitation to visit Washington D.C. and noted his visit was timely to discuss how the Philippines and the US “will chart a new vision for (our) critical alliance.”

Secretary Clinton praised Secretary del Rosario for having served “with distinction”  as Philippine ambassador to the US from 2001 to 2006.  END