Blinken lauds 'strong' PH-US alliance, reaffirms Washington's commitment to defense pact

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 6)— US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has reaffirmed America's commitment to its Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the Philippines, and vowed that Washington will continue to work with Manila on "shared challenges."

Blinken—who's in the country as part of his Southeast Asian and African tour—paid a courtesy call on Philippine President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Saturday, where he lauded the current state of Philippine-US ties.

"The alliance is strong and I believe can grow even stronger," Blinken told Marcos during their meeting in Malacañang.

"We're committed to the Mutual Defense Treaty. We're committed to working with you on shared challenges," he added. "But I think what’s so striking to me is that we are working together on bilateral issues between us, we’re working together in the region, and increasingly, we’re working globally because so many of the challenges we face are global in nature."

Inked in 1951, the MDT states that both countries would assist each other when either of them is attacked by a foreign force.

The decades-old agreement, however, faced scrutiny in the past administration—with officials seeking a review of the pact.

Former Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier wanted to clarify if the West Philippine Sea is covered by the treaty. He also previously underscored the need to make the MDT stronger and ensure its relevance in present times.

Marcos, for his part, believes that the accord is "in constant evolution."

The Philippine leader also briefly tackled developments in the international scene, including the war in Ukraine and the escalating tensions in nearby Taiwan—which was sparked by the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"This just points to the fact of the importance of the relationship between the United States and the Philippines. I hope that we will continue to evolve that relationship in the face of all the changes that we have been seeing," he told the top US diplomat.

The Philippines is one of Blinken's stops for his 10-day trip, which includes visits to Cambodia, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda.