US committed to defend Philippines: Obama

April 29, 2014 - 8:42:10 am

US President Barack Obama delivers remarks to US and Philippine troops at Fort Bonifacio in Manila on April 29, 2014. AFP photo / Noel Celis

MANILA, Philippines:  Saying nations' territories must be respected, President Barack Obama vowed on Tuesday that the United States will remain committed to defend its treaty ally, the Philippines.

Speaking before American and Filipino troops in Fort Bonifacio, Obama said the two nations are reaffirming their enduring alliance that has been bound by the Mutual Defense Treaty for more than 60 years.

"This treaty means our two nations pledge and I'm quoting 'Our common determination to defend themselves against external armed attacks so that no potential aggressor could be under the illusion that either of them stands alone,'" Obama said in his televised speech.

"In other words, our commitment to defend the Philippines is ironclad. And the United States will keep that commitment 'cause allies do not stand alone," the American leader added, drawing applause from the audience.

Obama made no mention of China in his short speech, but he did reiterate that the territorial disputes must be resolved peacefully and not by intimidation or force.

"We believe that nations and peoples have the right to live in security and peace and have their sovereignty and territorial integrity respected. We believe that international law must be upheld, that freedom of navigation must be preserved, and commerce must not be impeded," Obama said.

His remarks came after failing to categorically assure in a press conference on Monday that the US will defend the Philippines if and when the tensions in the disputed South China Sea escalate into an armed conflict.

Obama only said that the US is not aiming to counter nor contain China, which is claiming virtually the entire South China Sea.

The US and the Philippines on Monday signed the 10-year Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, allowing increased rotational presence of American soldiers in the country. (The Philippine Star)