THE Philippines will remind China that it has a mutual defense treaty with the United States, a complication in the dynamics between Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries and China.
President Rodrigo Duterte, in an ambush interview with reporters before the start of the ASEAN-China Summit on Wednesday, said a code of conduct (COC) can dictate ways by which countries can deal with each other.
“It’s [mutual defense treaty] not been abrogated. It’s there and even I don’t know. It’s the decision of the President, Congress, the Armed Forces,” he said.
The Philippines is a dialogue coordinator between ASEAN and China until 2021.
Duterte said he will push for the COC.
“Yes, I will focus on the COC. Everything has been excellent between China and the rest of the ASEAN except for the fact that there’s friction between the western nations and China. I am worried and I expressed it last night because we have a defense treaty, mutual defense treaty with the US,” he added.
The President seemed to suggest that the Philippines may be in a bind if there are conflicts in the South China Sea or the West Philippine Sea, the name the Philippines calls that part of the ocean where it has claims.
“[If]…there’s some serious miscalculation can…you know and because of the treaty I’d like to [tell] China that is why at all cost we must have the COC. So you’re there, you’re in possession, you occupied it, then tell us what route shall we take and what kind of behavior,” he said.