Ties with US strong despite Duterte tirade: Philippines
The Philippines on Tuesday assured the United States that it would honour its obligations as a military ally, following volleys of profane tirades by unpredictable President Rodrigo Duterte.
After calling US leader Barack Obama a “son of a whore” last week, Duterte said he was “not a fan” of Washington and had called for the small number of US military advisers to leave the southern Philippines on Monday.
On Tuesday, too, Duterte said Filipino forces would not participate in future joint patrols with the US in the South China Sea, where Manila claims waters that China insists are part of its territory.
However, top officials moved to stem the damage, saying that it was business as usual between the Philippines and its powerful ally, whose backing is essential as it jousts with China over the maritime dispute. “So far, there is no shift as our policy is concerned with respect to our close friendship with the Americans,” Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said.
The president’s spokesman insisted that Duterte’s comments were providing context to the conflict in the south, not a reversal of policy. “These were not directives to leave, OK? But this was a context on why we have a conflict (in Mindanao). In other words, he’s giving a broad historical, cultural landscape,” Duterte’s spokesman Ernesto Abella said.
Yasay, who was flying to Washington later in the day for talks, added that the Duterte administration would honour existing defence agreements.