The Philippine Foreign Minister Wants to End 'Shackling Dependency' on the US

Another facet of his presidency has been to distance the Philippines, if only rhetorically, from the United States.

MANILA-The Philippine defense chief said Friday that he had suspended participation in any joint patrols with the US of the disputed South China Sea, the first concrete sign of a crack in the military alliance following the election of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The minister also said he had the intention to travel to China and Russian Federation soon to establish bonds, a wish expressed in recent days by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has planned to visit China on October 20.

But at the Senate hearing Thursday, Yasay said the Duterte administration does not intend to abrogate its military agreements with the United States, neither does it contemplate in forging military ties with China.

The shift is the latest indicator of a cooling in relations between the United States and its one-time colony. Mr. Duterte's dramatic change of course now leaves those plans uncertain.

Through the years, he said the Philippines received used helicopters and ships that were about to be decommissioned from the US. Lorenzana implied the move might be temporary.

He has threatened to eject United States troops from the country, end joint military exercises and patrols with the U.S. in the South China Sea, and scrap a 2014 defence pact.

"Maybe we should re-assess (the relationship)", he said. Without your aid, fine, we will survive.

Lorenzana said those United States forces would be asked to leave when the Philippines acquired its own drones. He also questioned the validity of many Philippine military treaties with the US.

Duterte swept to power in May, with a wave of popular support for his anti-drug crackdown.

His first three months have been marked by a violent assault on alleged drug dealers and other criminals, in which more than 3,400 people have been killed, according to police figures. His "strongman" image, in addition to falling crime rates, makes him extremely popular within the Philippines.

The U.S. has expressed concern over the extrajudicial killings and urged Duterte's government to ensure law enforcement efforts comply with human rights obligations.

Yasay's tone contrasted sharply with that of Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who on Wednesday said Duterte may have been misinformed when he said U.S.

However, the defense secretary said he has yet to clarify with Duterte the plan to cancel all joint war games altogether. He has also indicated that he is open to closer relations with China and Russian Federation and is willing to hold direct talks with Beijing over territorial disputes in the South China Sea. "But we will never, never compromise our dignity as Filipinos", he was quoted saying.

However, he later added: "We must seek to expand our initiatives with other willing partners who share with us our vision of commitment, cooperation and capability to protect and preserve our cherished freedom". "Let's talk", Duterte earlier said, saying he wanted a diplomatic dialogue with China, rather than anger officials there and they cut (ties) completely.

Emma Naggy, deputy spokesman of the U.S. embassy in Manila, insisted that the relationship with Manila is stable and both countries have to move forward.

The Filipino defense chief said that his country meant to buy arms from other countries such as China and Russian Federation.



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