News Release

President Biden reiterates iron clad defense commitments to PH, Japan


US President Joe Biden reiterated on Thursday his iron clad defense commitments to Japan and the Philippines, stressing any attack on Philippine aircraft, vessels, or its military in the South China Sea would invoke the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).

“I want to be clear, the United States – United States defense commitments to Japan and the Philippines are iron clad. As I’ve said before, any attack on Philippine aircraft, vessels, or Armed Forces in the South China Sea would invoke our mutual defense treaty,” President Biden said in his remarks at the opening of the first trilateral summit with the Philippines and Japan in Washington DC.

Biden described Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in the historic gathering as friends and partners, bound by a shared vision and pursuit of a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

Aside from giving their commitment to defense and maritime cooperation, the US and Japan also expressed their full adherence to helping the Philippines advance its efforts to address climate change and further boost the Philippine economy to create industries and more jobs for Filipinos.

Biden and Kishida in the historic summit forged a stronger trilateral alliance with the Philippines as they vowed to protect the Indo-Pacific region to secure a better future for all.

President Marcos, for his part, said the trilateral meeting between the Philippines, the US and Japan is “bound by a shared vision and pursuit of a peaceful, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific” region amid challenges to international rules-based order.

The MDT between the Philippines and the United States of America, signed in 1951, serves as a foundation for the close security cooperation between the two countries. It was enhanced by the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), and the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), with the VFA providing the legal basis and status protection for US military and its civilian personnel in the Philippines on official business.

EDCA, on the other hand, authorizes US forces access to agreed locations in the Philippines on a rotational basis, for security cooperation exercises, joint and combined military training activities, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief activities. PND