High-profile Philippines officials are trying to reassure the US that long-standing military ties between the two countries are to remain intact irrespective of comments by President Rodrigo Duterte. Army spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla insisted Duterte’s demands that the US withdraw from the southern Philippines were an expression of “concern to the US servicemen in Mindanao.”
Duterte and Obama were scheduled to meet earlier this month, but after Duterte called him a “son of a whore” in a press conference, the meeting was cancelled. Duterte doesn’t seem to be looking conciliatory now, either, despite the comments from other officials.
He announced he is ending joint naval patrols with the US in the South China Sea, and also suggested historical reliance on the US for military gear was waning, saying the Philippines would soon send officials to China and Russia in efforts to shop around for military equipment.
“I don’t need jets, F-16 – that’s of no use to us,” Duterte added, “we don’t intend to fight any country.” The Philippines has never bought arms from either Russia or China in the past, and analysts say the US would likely try to prevent the Philippines from signing any major contracts with China. At the same time, Duterte clearly doesn’t like being told what to do by the US, and such attempts are likely to fuel even more resistance.