Duterte wants end to Philippines-US military exercises
The Philippines military and US?Marines are to hold annual amphibious landing exercises from October?4 to 12. Photograph: (Getty)
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday declared that the upcoming Philippines-US military exercise scheduled for October will be the last to happen under his administration, Reuters reported today.
"I am serving notice now to the Americans, this will be the last military exercise," Reuters quoted Duterte as saying .
"Jointly, Philippines-US: the last one," he said during a visit to Vietnam.
Duterte said he wants to establish new “alliances trade and commerce deals” with Russia and China, and that China does not approve of “war-games” being conducted in the Philippines with Washington. He, however, added that the Philippines will continue to maintain security agreements with Washington.
The spokesman for the US State of Department, John Kirby, said that he hasn't been notified on any such development. He, however, added that the United States will always remain committed to meeting the security engagements with the Philippines.
A US defence official said that the prospects of an end to the joint patrols with the Philippines was low, Reuters reported.
Philippines, that has carried out two patrol operations with the US within its 12-nautical mile territorial waters, has not officially committed to carrying out the patrols outside the territory.
Duterte 'taken out of context'
When asked if Duterte was serious about ending the joint military exercises, the foreign minister reportedly said that the President's statement “has been taken out of context” and that Duterte had meant only to restrict joint exercises within the Philippines' territorial waters.
Speculations are rife that the US-Philippines relationship might go for a toss as Duterete's stand could possibly inspire China to exploit the relationship between the two old allies.
"The US-Philippines relationship might become strained and even shaken," Richard Jacobson, an American security expert, said.
"The US geopolitical stakes in the region are much too high to react to his hyperbole. The current attitude in Washington is mature - more of patience than feeling provoked," he added.
'Obama a son of a bitch'
Since last month, Duterte has been expressing resentment in his near-daily bouts of outbursts on the US' alleged atrocities on the Philippines almost a century ago. He even called Barack Obama “a son of a bitch” ahead of a summit of Asian leaders in Laos earlier this month.
China and the Philippines have fought over sovereignty in the South China Sea, with the Philippines winning the case in the international court over disputed islands.
(WION with inputs from Reuters)