President Rodrigo Duterte wants the scheduled military exercises between the Philippines and the United States in October to be the last.
“So I’m serving notice now to the Americans. I will maintain the military alliance, the RP-US pact which our countries signed in the early 50s.
“But I will establish new alliances for trade and commerce. And you are scheduled to hold war games, which China does not want. I will serve notice to you now that this will be the last military exercise. Jointly, Philippines, the U.S.? Last one. Ayoko lang mapahiya si Defense Secretary (Delfin Lorenzana),” Duterte said in his talks with the Filipino community in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The annual Philippines Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) will be held from October 4 to 12 in multiple locations in Luzon, including Palawan, which fronts reefs and outcrops are being contested by Manila and Beijing, according to an embassy statement.
It will be the first war games between the two treaty allies under the Duterte administration
Duterte said he will not join any patrol activities in the South China Sea.
“Then I will not join any patrol in the (South China Sea.) ’Yung gray ships, war ships. White ‘yung Coast Guard. There will never be an occasion that I will send gray ships there. Not because I am afraid. Not because takot ako. Anyway, I have this ruling by the International Court of Justice that says that ‘yung South China Sea, the entitlements there, are ours,” he said.
According to Duterte, the Philippines is not ready to fight China, even with the help of the U.S.
“There is only two, either we go to war, or we talk. Hindi natin kaya ang China. Sasabihin ko sa ‘yo, even with the help of America. So, we talk,” Duterte said.
He, however, clarified that he will stand his ground in relation to the ruling released by an arbitration tribunal in The Hague.
“When the time comes, sabihin ko sa China, ito ‘yung amin. I will talk to you but I will not go out of the four corners of this paper. But this is not the time to die. I am not ready to commit the soldiers of this country just to be massacred.
“And besides, ‘t******, ang battle ground, Palawan? Naloko na. Kung doon ‘yan sa San Francisco, okay ako,” Duterte said.
He reiterated his plan to open the Philippines to China and Russia, which he will be visiting soon.
“I will visit China. I will open the doors to investment, lahat open, pati Internet, mamili ka. Pati bowl d’yan sa banyo, buksan ko ‘yan. Then I will go to Russia. I talked to Medvedev doon sa (ASEAN Summit). Sikreto lang, ngayon ko lang sasabihin. Now they know,” Duterte added.
For his part, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. has denied hearing Duterte declare the end of joint military exercises with the Philippines’ treaty ally, the United States.
Yasay told reporters what the President meant was that the Philippines would not have joint patrols with a warship of another country outside the country’s territorial waters.
“We are not going to undertake any joint patrol ever in our exclusive economic zone which is outside of the 12-mile territorial limit in a joint patrol with a gray ship of another country,” said Yasay, who is part of Duterte’s official delegation in Vietnam.
Duterte earlier he didn’t want Philippine forces to be involved in joint patrols outside the country’s territory.
“I just want to patrol our territorial waters. We do not go into patrol or join any army because I do not want trouble,” Duterte said.
Asked about Duterte’s remarks that the next Philippines’ next “war games” with the US will be the last, Yasay replied: “I have not heard that so I cannot make any comment on that.”
Aside from the Mutual Defense Act of 1951, the Philippines and the US also have a Visiting Forces Agreement that covers the conduct of joint military exercises in the archipelago.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon thinks that future military exercises between the Philippines and the US have not been canceled.
Esperon, who’s also a part of Duterte’s delegation, believes the President only referred to joint military exercises for 2016.
“Ang pagkakaintindi ko, it’s the last for the year. We will clarify,” Esperon told reporters.
On Monday, the U.S. Embassy in Manila announced two-week deployment of a pair of C130 planes and 100 troops at an air base in central Philippines, the third of its kind this year, as part of a rotational troops agreement.