• PH, US agree to ‘refocus’ military ties

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    Peru: The Philippines and the Unites States have agreed to refocus bilateral relations toward nontraditional activities, such as joint cooperation in combating illegal drugs and corruption as well as disaster response.

    This came after Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. met with his American counterpart, US Secretary of State John Kerry at the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in the Peruvian capital.

    Speaking to Filipino journalists, Yasay said that, during a “very cordial” meeting, he conveyed to Kerry the assurance of President Rodrigo Duterte that the Philippines would continue its defense cooperation with the US.
    But Manila will no longer focus on joint military exercises to avoid “provocations,” particularly in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

    “Engaging ourselves with the United States insofar as military preparedness for invasion of countries like China then no longer holds true, because we’re in the midst of this conflict or dispute we have insofar as South China Sea is concerned, where we are committed to resolve this in peaceful manner,” Yasay said during a news conference.

    “So what we have told the United States is maybe we should tone down and not focus on these joint military exercises which was a fundamental core of our mutual defense agreement, but get into EDCA where we would like to focus on exercises that are nontraditional insofar as building our capacity against nontraditional security threats such as terrorism, even the fight against illegal drugs, even disaster response,” he added.

    Yasay was referring to the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) that allows US troops rotational access to military bases and camps in the Philippines.

    According to him, President Duterte “never said anything about discontinuing EDCA.”

    Yasay announced that US Admiral Harry Harris, the new commander of the US Pacific Command, would soon visit the Philippines to discuss areas of joint cooperation.

    The meeting of Yasay and Kerry came after Duterte, during a state visit in Beijing in October, announced his military and economic “separation from the United States.”

    But the President later clarified that his announcement was “not a severance” of diplomatic ties, just a separation of foreign policy.

    The US reacted by saying that Duterte’s controversial statements have created a “climate of uncertainty about the Philippines’ intentions.”

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    7 Comments

    1. That was precisely why we lost Mischief Reef because of a number of issues.
      1. No capability – navy or air force. to enforce our EEZ.

      2. Not aggressive enough to kick out an intruder. We should have been more assertive in stopping the Chinese from seizing our eez as far back as 30 to 40 years ago. Now we are heading to the same posture. Lame.

      3.China respects only one thing, your ability to fight back. And we play pussy.

      4. Increase that damn military budget to 2% of the GDP and I’m sure we will have an ability to kick some ass down the road. No resolve so far even Du30. He has no balls to force the Tongressmen.

      • Better develop a nuclear capability like what North Korea did. And ballistic missile technology. Get out of Nuclear non-proliferation treaty. And be prepared to weather adverse international response.

    2. Unfortunately, Yasay is talking to the wrong American, named Kerry. Kerry will be gone by January! Talk to President-elect Trump. Remember, Trump will “drain the swamp.”

      • Don’t worry. Gen Mattis will be confirmed as the new Defense Secretary. That marine General got the balls to confront the Chinese.

    3. It is very hard to predict Dutertes decisions. He tends to separate himself to the US then turn around and says that is not what he is saying. Anyways, the damage s done. Foreign investments are going out, peso devalue, stocks down. Even as the GDP is the highest in the region. The best thing that Duterte made is lessening the tension between RP and China which was almost to the boiling point.

    4. The problem in the West Philippines Sea, will never be solve, with Duterte’s presidency. Because China will never give up their claim, only in Duterte’s dream. The only way to solve this problem is my military, thru alliance.bully to bully. The best time is now, China can’t go to war, he cannot afford to go to war, he is just using psychological war on Filipinos.

    5. The idea of using the military to combat terrorism, for drug interdiction, to stop piracy, and for disaster preparedness and relief makes much more sense than war with other Asian powers. The interests and needs of the Philippines and the region must come first. In the long run, a stable and peaceful Asia probably is the best foreign policy goal for the US as well.