Philippines defense chief says decades-old US pact needs to be revamped

The decades-old defense treaty between the US and the Philippines needs to be revamped, or risks dragging Manila into a war with China, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Tuesday. Four days ago, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would intervene in case of an armed attack on Philippines forces or vessels in the disputed South China Sea. “It is not the lack of reassurance that worries me. It is being involved in a war that we do not seek and do not want,” Lorenzana said in a statement. Officials in Manila have suggested the Philippines’ 1951 mutual defense treaty with the US may not apply in the strategic waterway, since Washington has not stopped Beijing building artificial islands over reefs claimed by Manila and other neighbors, AFP said. The US has said it does not take sides in the dispute over the South China Sea, which is claimed by Beijing as well as the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. However, the US has sailed warships near the Chinese-built islands to assert free passage.