Tensions between the Obama Administration and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte continue to grow, with Duterte today announce that he intends to conduct no additional joint war games with the United States following those scheduled for early October.
The October 4-12 exercise will happen as planned, centering on amphibious landing exercises. Duterte said his comments were to serve notice to the US that this is “the last one,” though State Department officials insisted they hadn’t been formally informed of that.
The US and Philippine militaries are already discussing plans for next year’s annual operation, despite Duterte’s comment. Duterte, who was speaking in Hanoi to a group of Philippines ex-pats, added that there would be no more joint naval patrols in the South China Sea, because the Philippines didn’t want to be dragged into a US war against China.
Indeed, Duterte insisted only yesterday that he intends to establish new alliances with Russia and China, and has also recently suggested that he’d be shopping around on arms sales instead of just buying what the US wants to sell him.
Duterte insisted he intends to maintain good relations with the US along with the new alliances, but with so much of America’s interest in the region centering on having countries like the Philippines on the verge of war with China, it will doubtless be a new source of tension.