PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan — Despite a series of challenges involving Filipino aircraft and Chinese monitoring platforms in the West Philippine Sea, Western Command (WesCom) head Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez expressed belief on Tuesday that China will not destabilize the situation by firing at patrolling Philippine planes.
“No, I don’t think they will do that,” he said.
And should China do this, Lopez said that the Philippines can invoke the 1954 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States.
The Western Command is the unit tasked to defend Palawan and Filipino possessions in the West Philippine Sea.
Chinese attempts to challenge Philippine planes patrolling the West Philippines Sea started on April 19.
Another incident took place two days ago, Lopez said.
Aircraft usually challenged are the Philippine Air Force’s GAF Nomad patrol aircraft.
“If they do that, it is already an affront to the Republic of the Philippines and we can invoke the Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States,” the Western Command head stated.
Article 5 of the MDT defines the meaning of attack and its purpose which includes “all attacks by a hostile power will be held as an attack on a metropolitan area by both parties or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific or on its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.”
Lopez said that such incident will prove counterproductive to China and the rest of the region and they should not allow it to happen.
“If they are a peace-loving nation, they will not allow that to happen,” he stressed.
The Western Command head added that the US is very clear in coming to the aid of the Philippines should any of its planes or ships be fired upon without any provocations.
“It is very clear in the MDT,” he pointed out.