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For academic purposes, over breaking-up internet provided by Globe leasing Huawei 5G LTE (on the side of the Filipino audience member) Legal Issue: Does the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) include defense of the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), including Scarborough Shoal. U.S. International Law expert answers the question by saying the U.S. will come to the aid of the Philippines outside of the MDT
     US International Law Expert (IL) delivering a lecture : xxx “The MDT under Article 5, if there is an attack against the territory of the Philippines, against islands under the territorial administration such as Scarborough Shoal, in my opinion, or attacks against the armed forces of the Philippines, then that triggers the Mutual Defense Treaty. The UN Charter says…”
     Filipino audience member (Fil) : “The MDT doesn’t include disputed territories…” ( internet breaking up provided by Globe Huawei, dark screen)
    IL: The what?
     Fil: The MDT does NOT … (breaking up internet by Huawei)… not include disputed territories.
      IL: Well, that’s your interpretation… right?
    Fil: … (breaking-up internet, dark screen by Huawei) … it just covers the mainland… (choppy)
      IL: It’s a matter of interpretation, but if you read its…
      Fil: (breaking-up internet by Globe Huawei) No (breaking up internet by Huawei) … it’s not a matter of interpretation (breaking up internet by Huawei) it’s there (breaking up internet by Huawei)… it’s stated there (choppy)…
      IL: Oh. Not disputed territories it says there the islands…
      Fil: (internet breaking up, by Huawei) … It doesn’t cover disputed (internet breaking up by Huawei) ( Fil   sighs) … i’m sorry (sighs   again) (breaking-up internet by Globe Huawei)
     IL: (nods) …go ahead
      Fil: it doesn’t cover disputed territories (internet breaking up by Globe Huawei)… only the mainland.
     IL: Well, it doesn’t cover only the mainland, it says there the islands under the administration of the Philippines.
     Fil: Yes but… (internet breaking up, by Huawei) (Fil   sighs   again) disputed territories are not part of those… (internet breaking up, by Huawei)
     IL: (nods) right, so it’s a line-drawing exercise, what you are going to include, and what you are not going to include, and you know, frankly it’s up to the interpretation of the U.S. and the government of the Philippines, I mean, these words… as is famously in the …U.S…. during the civil war…the Constitution is not a suicide pact. So, I would not say…whether it is, or it is not. … All of these things… are subject to … political decisions. Political decisions. Look, the United States …will come to the aid of Vietnam or India… even if…we’re not a treaty ally. The United States does not have a defense treaty with Israel and yet the U.S. has provided a lot of aid to Israel during its wars against the Arab states. So, I wouldn’t be too legalistic. Because these are ultimately political questions. You cannot say …like… make a final determination. Because it all depends. It depends on who the President is, and what the threat happens to be. The US has no defense treaty with India or Vietnam, and yet … the U.S. cannot afford for either of these countries to be dominated by China. So…you just never know, that’s all I’m saying. I understand what you’re saying, that it doesn’t apply, on its face, to disputed territories… but also, the U.S. can take action outside of the Mutual Defense Treaty. … right…? The U.S. can come to the aid of …ah, of Malaysia, if it wanted to. If it’s said … The U.S. came and … fought the Korean war… and the Vietnam war … We did not have a Mutual Defense Treaty with Korea when we… the only reason we went into the Korean war is to prevent it from being dominated by Russia or China. So, that’s all I’m saying, it’s, let’s not be too legalistic…”

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Postscript: The relevant provision  of the MDT: “Article V. For the purpose of Article IV, an armed attack on either of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the metropolitan territory of either of the Parties, or on the Island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific Ocean, its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.” (blue font supplied) (File photo: From the archives)

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