The Philippines continues to distance itself from US policy in the region today, with Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay announcing that his country will not protest any actions China is taking on the Spratly Islands, saying China can take whatever actions they think are necessary and efforts to improve bilateral ties will continue.
The Philippines and China nominally have a maritime dispute over the Spratly Islands, a dispute which the US has been heavily pushing. The US has made of point of backing every country in the South China Sea, so long as their maritime claims conflict with China’s.
But President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed interest in shifting away from total Philippines reliance on the US, and toward good relations with both Russia and China. Duterte today reiterated that he wants the United States to prepare to withdraw its military forces from the Philippines.
The comments came after reports the US was considering putting aid on hold over human rights concerns under Duterte. Duterte insisted his country doesn’t need US aid, and that the US needs to prepare for the abrogation of the deal allowing them to have military assets in the Philippines’ territory.