Harris renews US commitment to 'stand with PH' in case of attack in WPS

The United States (US) will be there for the Philippines in case any of the country's armed forces or assets in the disputed West Philippine Sea is attacked, Vice President Kamala Harris ensured.

President Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. and US Vice President Kamala Harris (Ali Vicoy)

Harris said this during her bilateral meeting with President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. in Malacañang on Monday, November 21. Harris is on a three-day Working Visit to the Philippines from November 20 to 22, 2022.

In her remarks, Harris said the relationship between the Philippines and the US is based on "mutual concerns about security for the region," and "upholding international rules and norms."

"As it relates to the Philippines, I will say that we must reiterate, always, that we stand with you in defense of international rules and norms," she said.

"As it relates to the South China Sea, an armed attack on the Philippines' armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke US mutual defense commitments, and that is an unwavering commitment that we have to the Philippines," she added.

Harris was referring to the mutual defense treaty between the Philippines and the US signed in 1951.

During his visit to New York in September, President Marcos said Manila’s ties with Washington are vital to resolving the issue in the West Philippine Sea.

"The position that the Philippines takes is that we have no territorial conflict with China. What we have China claiming territory that belongs to the Philippines," he said.

"This is the position we take, and with our American partners, we have promoted that position. We have also made it clear to our friends in Beijing that this is the way we feel about it," he added.

Despite this, Marcos said that the Philippines would continue to work with the parties involved to resolve the matter peacefully. The Philippines, China, Brunei, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam all have claims in the South China Sea.

He added that he would do "whatever it takes" to resolve the matter peacefully.

President Marcos also said he would not surrender an inch of Philippine territory as he depended on the US' peacekeeping role in the region.

"I will not preside over any process that will abandon even a square inch of the territory of the Republic of the Philippines to any foreign power," he said.

"We know that we can count on the United States to uphold the international law-based order, freedom of navigation and overflight, and the sustainability and development of maritime resources. But equally important, we look to the United States to promote peace, security, and prosperity," he added.

During his trip to Singapore in September, President Marcos and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in a bilateral meeting, called for the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).