• ‘OCTOBER NAVAL EXERCISES WILL BE LAST’

    Duterte: No more PH-US war games

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    Joint exercises between the Philippine and US militaries. File Photo

    PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has announced that October’s joint exercises between the Philippine and US militaries would be the last, as “China does not want” the war games with the Americans.

    Duterte’s remarks before the Filipino community in Hanoi, Vietnam is the latest in a string of anti-US tirades in response to Washington’s criticism of his bloody war on drugs, while seeking closer ties with Beijing and Moscow as part of an “independent foreign policy.”

    The President’s aides struggled to backpedal and the US State department said ties with Manila remained strong, but Duterte’s statements Wednesday night before a full-house audience at Hanoi’s Intercontinental Hotel were clear.

    “So I’m serving notice now to the Americans: I will maintain the military alliance because there is [a mutual defense]pact which our countries signed in the early ‘50s. But I will establish new alliances for trade and commerce,” the President said.

    “You (US) are scheduled to hold war games again, which China does not want. I would serve notice to you now that this will be the last military exercise. Jointly, Philippines-US, the last one,” he added.

    The President said he decided to make the announcement himself to avoid putting Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in an awkward position.

    What was unclear was how Manila would be able to meet its treaty obligations with Washington if joint military exercises were discontinued.

    Apart from the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty in which both countries agreed to defend each other in case of an external attack, Manila and Washington signed in 1998 a Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) governing the conduct of American soldiers in the Philippines.

    The 10-year Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement signed by the previous Aquino administration in 2014, a supplement to the VFA, allows the rotational presence of US troops as well as their access to Philippine military facilities.

    Duterte, in his remarks in Hanoi, was referring to the annual Philippines Amphibious Landing Exercise (Phiblex) scheduled on October 4 to 12 in multiple locations in Luzon and Palawan, which is close to reefs and outcrops being contested by Manila and Beijing.

    At least 500 Filipino marines and 1,400 US servicemen based in Okinawa, Japan will be participating in the 33rd edition of the amphibious exercises, which will include medical and engineering missions.

    Phiblex is meant to improve interoperability between Philippine and US marines in times of disaster or maritime conflict.

    Yasay, Esperon clarify

    Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. rushed to clarify the President’s remarks.

    “No, no, no. He did not say that at all,” Yasay told reporters covering Duterte’s working visit to Hanoi on Wednesday. “No, no, no. I do not – You have to understand the President’s statements in the context of what he was saying.”

    Yasay claimed Duterte’s announcement was delivered in the context of the President’s earlier declaration that there would no longer be joint military patrols at the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) to avoid provoking other claimants to the disputed waters.

    In a news conference on Thursday, Yasay explained that decisions on joint exercises were made by the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Board, which had recommended to the previous Aquino Administration the continuation of war games up to 2017. But this can be reviewed later on by the Duterte Administration, he said.
    Esperon told reporters in Hanoi on Wednesday the President only meant that the October military exercise would be the last for the year.

    “We will clarify,” Esperon said after the President’s speech.

    In Washington, US Department of State spokesman John Kirby said the Philippines had yet to officially communicate President Duterte’s decision.

    “To my knowledge, no. There has been no official rendering of a decision of that sort to the US government,” Kirby said in a regular State department news conference. “They might have a context I don’t have, but we’re not aware of any such decision.”

    Kirby said the US was optimistic in moving its relationship with the Philippines forward and that Manila would remain “committed to meeting” significant security obligations.

    Palawan as battleground?

    In his speech on Wednesday, Duterte reiterated that the Philippines will no longer participate in joint patrols in the South China Sea.

    “There will never be an occasion that I will send the gray ships there. Not because I am afraid,” he said.

    He said that at any rate, Manila won the international arbitration case against Beijing in July.

    Duterte pointed out, however, that the ruling pertained only to the Philippines’ maritime entitlements to the West Philippine Sea within the 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone provided under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

    This amounted to fishing rights, he pointed out.

    “When that time comes, I will tell China, this is ours. I will talk to you but I will not go out of the four corners of this paper (tribunal ruling). But it is not the time to die. I am not ready to commit the soldiers of this country just to be massacred,” the President said.

    There are only two options as regards China, Duterte reiterated. “Either we go to war or we talk. We can’t beat China … , even with the help of America. So we talk,” he said.

    “Besides,” Duterte said, Palawan would become a battleground. “Naloko na [That’s crazy]!”
    But it’s okay to take the battle to San Francisco, he quipped.

    Open to China, Russia
    The President also reiterated plans to expand ties with, and visit, China and Russia, two powers with historic rivalries with the US.

    “I will visit China. I will open the doors for investment, everything will be open, the Internet, even the toilet bowl … Then I will go to Russia. I talked to [Russian Premier Dmitry Medvedev] in the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summit,” Duterte said.

    On Monday, the President said the Philippines was at the point of no return in relations with the US, as he would like to open trade alliances with China and Russia which he described as the “other side of the ideological barrier.”

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    10 Comments

    1. Time to get a new President. The novelty is over. He is as crazy as Hitler or Stalin.

      With this lunatic in power and our depreciating dollar value I am moving my family out of the Philippines and looking at more enlightened and stable Australia, USA, Canada, Singapore or New Zealand.

      • I pray and hope that the Philippine government is founded by the sense of right from wrong and concern for the common good and not for the obsession of power and fame. All things in these world are fleeting. In the Bible, I know the end of days is coming in this world too. However, God’s plan and purpose for our lives are for our welfare and it is necessary to take part in His ministry on earth to save the humanity. I pray for the gift of discernment for all Filipinos…In humility, let us get rid of false pride and pray to God for enlightenment for our country…

      • I pray and hope that the Philippine government is founded by the sense of right from wrong and concerned for the common good and not for the obsession of power and fame. All things in this world are fleeting. In the Bible, I know the end of days is coming in this world too. However, God’s plan and purpose for our lives are for our welfare and it is necessary to take part in His ministry on earth to save the humanity. I pray for the gift of discernment for all Filipinos…In humility, let us get rid of false pride and pray to God for enlightenment for our country…

      • I pray and hope that the Philippine government is founded by the sense of right from wrong and concerned for the common good and not for the obsession of power and fame. All things in this world are fleeting. In the Bible, I know the end of days is coming in this world too. However, God’s plan and purpose for our lives are for our welfare and it is necessary to take part in His ministry on earth to save the humanity. I pray for the gift of discernment for all Filipinos…In humility, let us get rid of false pride and pray to God for enlightenment for our country and for the whole world as well…

    2. The statements of the President would not have been said if the Americans were sincere in dealing with the Philippines. First, Obama flaunted in his speech that they are not going to interfere with territorial disputes. This irresponsible neutrality gave the Chine a tip to aggressively continue their island building in the Philippine territories. After the islands were built, here comes the Yankees quacking on the freedom of navigation. I wonder if the trillion dollars loan of America granted by China could be one controlling issue for Obama. Second, the Pilipino fishermen were told by the Americans that they will get protection in fishing at the territory belonging to the US Philippines as decided by the UN tribunal. But after that, the Pilipinos are still getting nothing except palliatives. Third, war exercises with the US makes bitter wedge among Asians affecting trade, political and traditional relationship. As wisely understood, conflicts in the region are best solved by bilateral talks as war would only bring total disadvantage to the Philippines and gains for the Americans. America is the author of all the wars involving Middle Eastern countries. Lastly, China is not heading a bit of the UN Tribunal decision that UN is not disturbed about. As revealed in the silence of the UN, whatever its decision is good for nothing against China, the creditor of the west. What the President of the Philippines is planning is to get fair and just treatment by America and the rest of the world.

    3. Duterte is ending the annual Balikatan excercize, his reason is because China doesn’t like it. I don’t this president is representing what the nation want, it is what he wants. The truth is, majority of Filipinos are pro US, and he want to change Filipino’s mindset to love China, because they are better than US? He started his rhetoric by, the Filipino massacre, by bad mouth mouthing the pope, Pres. Obama, and Ban K Moon, and EU. He is doing this on his own and Filipinos are not doing anything, about it. That is, what’s wrong with us, free country we should we should say something about this.

    4. Don’t you guys think Du30 is playing a “Russian Roulette’ game? I hope China does not get any closer than what it is now….I feel they’ll be bigger consequences and PH will never be the same. China will overthrow any government to defend and protect their people’s investment.

    5. “China does not want” the war games with the Americans.
      ——————————

      The Philippines better start learning Chinese.
      North Korea and Philippines the little brothers of China

      Good Luck