Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said there is nothing definite yet about the holding of military exercises with China since it is still being considered by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“That is possible but pag-uusapan pa kasi kung anong klaseng war games ang gagawin (we are still discussing what kind of war games will be carried out). So we have not talked about the details,” Lorenzana told reporters in an interview.
On Monday, Duterte said he is open to joint military exercises with China and Russia as he reiterated that he will no longer allow war games with longtime ally the United States.
Lorenzana said joint military exercises with other countries will not affect the Philippines’ relations with the US.
“I don’t think there will be implications because we have exercises with other countries like Australia and for a while, with Singapore. Wala naman, hindi naman naapektuhan ang ating relationship with the United States (There was no effect on our relationship with the United States),” he said.
“He (President) is still considering it. Hindi naman sinasabing (He did not say) we will already go there. He’s just open for discussion. So I think there will be lengthy discussions. We’ll consider the pros and cons. Ang sinasabi naman niya, basta sa interest ng ating bansa ay gagawin niya (He said he will do it if it will be for the country’s interest),” Lorenzana added.
The President has also announced that the country will no longer join joint patrols with foreign navies in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
In Brunei, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said the South China Sea issue was not the sum total of the relationship between China and the Philippines, but the time was not yet right to discuss resolving it.
“We still have to build up the lost trust and confidence that was weakened or eroded during the past administration,” Yasay told reporters.
“But then we should not also miss out on the opportunities for trade and economic relationship that we would need as much as China,” he added.