During the Philippine Coast Guard’s 115th anniversary celebration held in Manila, President Rodrigo Duterte faced members of the coast guard and firmly expressed his decision that there will be no more joint military exercises between the armed forces of the Philippines and the United States.
President Duterte disclosed that he already talked with Delfin Lorenzana, Secretary of the Department of National Defense, and has ordered the latter to cancel any preparations for the 2017 military exercises with the United States armed forces.
He also previously expressed that the 2016 military exercises with the US troops will be the last one while he is sitting as president.
President Duterte, however, also clarified that United States and Philippines will remain as allies. He said that he is not breaking alliances with the United States, and that there is no need to break existing treaties between the two countries.
He also said that maintaining military alliances is necessary for our defense and in case World War III breaks out.
Previously, the outspoken Philippine president publicly uttered defaming remarks against the President of the United States, and even expressed cutting ties with the US. He eventually retracted his statements.
US Military Spokesperson for the drills, Major Roger Hollenbeck gave a short and concise response to reports that the 2016 military exercises with be the last. He said that if it the last one, then so be it.
He, however, added that he has nothing to do with the cancellation of the exercises, and said that the two countries will continue to work together because both have a great relationship with each other.
According to Carl Thayer, an expert on the South China Sea dispute, Duterte’s actions regarding the United States armed forces will limit US’ ability to help in the defense of the Philippines, and in maintaining regional security as well.
Meanwhile, amid fears that the Philippines will be vulnerable to attacks from China without the US Armed Forces, the Philippine president is scheduled to have a state visit to China to improve bilateral relations between the two countries.