THE United States sees as rhetoric President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement ending the US military exercises in the Philippines in the absence of formal notification.
There is no formal communication yet from the Philippine Government indicating a policy change ending joint military exercises and pushing American troops out of the country within two years.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said it is seen as rhetoric at this point since there is no formal notification by the Philippines but it contributes to uncertainty.
“We haven’t received any formal notification or communication from the Filipino government that they’re planning to make any changes to our relationship,” Earnest said.
Duterte, who spoke at the Philippine Economic Forum during his visit in Tokyo said he wants US troops out of the Philippines in the next two years and all military agreements with Washington scrapped if necessary.
Earnest said that there is a diplomatic process where, through a formal channel, the Philippines could formally notify the US of the Philippine government’s intent to alter the terms of the alliance between the two countries.
“We’ve received no formal notification along those lines. So that’s why the news that’s been made out of the Philippines I would classify as rhetoric at this point,” Earmest said. “We haven’t received any sort of formal notification or communication indicating a policy change.”
He stressed the string of counterproductive rhetoric has injected some unnecessary uncertainty in the relationship between the US and the Philippines.
“It does contribute to some uncertainty, and that uncertainty is inconsistent with what has for the last seven decades been a rock-solid alliance that’s benefitted people and governments in both countries.”
The Press Secretary reiterated President Barack Obama’s statement in Laos which he said is “certainly true today” that that rhetoric seen over the last several weeks is not indicative of the strong relationship between the US and the Philippines.
“It’s not indicative of the seven-decade-long alliance between our two countries. It’s not indicative of the deep cultural ties between our two countries, particularly given the sizeable Filipino-American population in this country,” he added.
Earnest said it is also not a manifestation of the kind of support that the US has offered to the Philippines in the past.
In the last couple of years, he said the US military has mobilized an aggressive response to assist the Filipino people as they respond, recover and rebuild in the aftermath of large storms in the Pacific Ocean,
He said this is the nature of the US relationship with the Philippines and an indication of how beneficial this relationship has been to the citizens of both countries.
“And we certainly would welcome more rhetoric that is reflective of that relationship, and not rhetoric that only contributes to greater uncertainty about the willingness of the Filipino government to live up to commitments that they’ve abided by for seven decades,” he added.