HANOI – The 2016 war games with the US military troops will be the last joint exercise held between Philipines and the United States of America, President Duterte said in his speech before the Filipino community in Vietnam.
Duterte said he was giving notice to the Americans about the war games, “You are scheduled to hold war games, which China does not want. I will serve notice to you now that this will be the last military exercise.”
Philippines only has a mutual defense treaty with the US and Duterte said, “I’m serving notice now to the Americans. I will maintain the military alliance, the RP-US pact which our countries signed in the early 50s. But I will establish new alliances for trade and commerce.”
He added that he won’t let the military’s grey ships take part in joint patrols.
The militaries of the two countries have held joint exercises every year, the most significant of which is the Balikatan exercises.
President Duterte also spoke of his plans to visit China and Russia ‘to open all doors of investment’.
Philippines Daily Inquirer reported that the Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay said he had not hear the president would end the war games between the Philippines and the US.
While sitting onstage when Duterte made the statement, Yasay declined to comment when asked by reporters to clarify on what the President meant. “Don’t pressure me to comment on something I didn’t hear,” Yasay said.
And Hermogenes Esperon Jr, the national security adviser, said the President possibly meant the war games in October as being the last for the year and not for Duterte’s entire term.
This year’s joint military exercises were held in April. The next war games are planned to be held in October.
Apart from speaking on the end of the joint military exercises with the US, Duterte also attacked his most vocal critic Senator Leila de Lima, referring to her as Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre’s ‘best friend’.
In his speech, the President once again deplored the U.S. President Barack Obama, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other international groups who have been criticizing him in his drugs war.
“Instead of helping us, the U.S. and the European Union started criticizing me,” he complained.
He also stressed to the Filipino community the nation’s two problems: the illegal drugs and the Abu Sayyaf who brings the Islamic State’s influence in Mindanao.