Philippines: President Duterte wants end to 'war games' with US
Sept.29, Manila: Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has announced that the military exercises between the Philippines and the United States scheduled in October will be the last under his administration.
Duterte made the announcement on Wednesday during his official visit to Vietnam, signaling a shift away from an alliance that is one of the oldest in Asia.
"You [US] are scheduled to hold war games, which China does not want. I will serve notice to you now that this will be the last military exercise. Jointly, Philippines [and] the US? Last one," Duterte said in a speech to the Filipino community in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.
The "amphibious landing exercise" involving 500 Filipino troops and 1,400 US forces is scheduled to take place from October 4 to 12, and is the first to be held under his administration.
The drill is separate from the annual joint military exercises that involve a larger contingent of US troops held every April.
"I will maintain the military alliance, the RP-US pact which our countries signed in the early 50s. But I will establish new alliances for trade and commerce," Duterte said.
In a statement to Al Jazeera, the US State Department said it will "continue to focus on our broad relationship with the Philippines".
"Our alliance is one of our most enduring and important relationships in the Asia Pacific region. It has been a cornerstone of stability for over 70 years. It is built on shared sacrifices for democracy and human rights and strong people-to-people and societal ties," Julia Mason, a State Department spokesman, said.
Mason said the US will continue to "work together in the many areas of mutual interest, including counterterrorism, to improve the livelihoods of the Philippine people and uphold our shared democratic values."
In recent weeks Duterte has repeatedly declared that he wants to pursue an "independent foreign policy", adding that he wants to "open alliances" with US rivals China and Russia.
The Oslo Times International News Netowrk