Philippines confirms end of joint patrols with U.S., shuns aid

President Rodrigo Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte

The Philippines on Friday said it had suspended its joint patrols with the U.S. in the South China Sea.

It also shunned aid from the U.S., saying it could “live without” the financial aid from the country.

Defence Secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, said that the U.S. and Philippines had so far conducted two naval exercises in the disputed seas, but that there would be no more planned.

“When President Rodrigo Duterte said there will be no more patrols, we already informed our counterparts that there are no more patrols in the meantime.

“We suspended it first, they know it already,” he said.

Lorenzana reiterated that the military could “live without” financial aid from the U.S. and would instead approach lawmakers to ask for a bigger budget to fill in the shortfall.

“Our Congress is giving us money now.

“I believe they will be giving us more if we have no source of funds,” he said.

The defence chief said that there was truth to the assessment by the country’s foreign secretary that the U.S. had “failed us”, especially in efforts to boost the military’s capabilities.

“We have been allies since 1951; all we got from that time until 1992 are all hand-me-downs, no new equipment.

“The Americans failed to beef up our capabilities to be at par with what is happening in the region,” he said.

President Duterte had recently warned that he may “break up” with the U.S. as he sought to realign the country’s foreign policy and end dependence on America.

He had also said that he wanted over 100 U.S. troops deployed in the southern region of Mindanao to leave, and that he would scrap the countries’ 28 annual joint military exercises.

On Thursday, Duterte had said that the Philippines would not beg for assistance from countries that had criticised his administration’s war against illegal drugs.

In the war, at least 1, 523 people have been killed by the police operations since July 1.

“I do not expect human rights groups, I do not expect (U.S. President Barack) Obama, I do not expect the EU to understand me.

“If you think it’s high time for you to withdraw assistance, go ahead.

“We will not beg for it,” Duterte said.


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