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Number one, there are more than 60,000 Filipinos in South Korea. Many are married to Koreans while a large number are workers. A displacement of these huge number of Filipinos will mean difficulties not only for the workers and their families but also to the Philippine economy.
Number two, the U.S. can invoke the 1951 RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty that states:
“ARTICLE IV. 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.”
The Philippines has no warships or warplanes to add to the armada of battleships that the U.S. Pacific Command is starting to position off the Korean Peninsula. But U.S. warships and warplanes can refuel in the Philippines in military bases where the U.S. was allowed to set up facilities under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed in 2014.
Filipinos in South Korea. Photo from dfa.gov.ph
Lawyer and broadcaster Mel Sta. Maria, Jr., dean of Far Eastern University Institute of Law said the U.S. can invoke the MDT in enlisting the support of the Philippines in a conflict with North Korea because, “According to Article 5, an ‘armed attack’ includes an attack on its ‘public vessels’ in the Pacific. :
However, Sta. Maria said, “Under Article 3, the extent of Phil. assistance in the implementation of The MDT will still be subject to consultation between the US and Phil, but all efforts must be, in accordance with the stated purpose of the treaty, in view of ‘their sense of unity and their common determination to defend themselves against external armed attack so that no potential aggressor could be under the illusion that either of them stands alone in the Pacific.’"
Sta. Maria further said, “One thing is sure, under the MDT, in case a U.S public ship is attacked, the Philippines must declare our support for US but the extent of support is subject to the Philippine Constitution and UN Charter. Support can very well be a public declaration of support without more.”
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