Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly called for all US troops to be removed from his country, saying he intends to realign his nation toward a closer relationship with China, and announcing the end of joint military patrols with US forces.
That isn’t having nearly as big an impact on US-Philippines military ties as you’d figure, however, with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana saying he has been told the Pentagon has green lit planned base upgrades within the Philippines, and that the nations’ military pact is still wholly intact.
The deal allows the US to position planes, ships,, and troops at five bases in the Philippines as a rotational deployment. In return the US promised to build a new barracks and other substantial new upgrades to those bases.
The big change in US-Philippines relations, beyond rhetoric, is that the Philippines is no longer exclusively acquiring arms from US arms makers, having gotten a deal to acquire boats, sniper rifles, and a robot from China as part of a $14 million “donation.” Philippines officials say they’ll buy more from China if the initial gear is high quality.