Philippine president says ‘separation’ does not mean cutting ties with U.S.
  • Thursday, January 17, 2019
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Philippine president says ‘separation’ does not mean cutting ties with U.S.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech during the Philippines-China Trade and Investment Forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Thursday.

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MANILA >> Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he did not mean he would cut off ties with the United States when he said in China that he was separating from the U.S., adding it’s in his country’s best interest to stay with America.

Despite the clarification, the tough-talking president kept up on his tirades against the U.S., saying in a late-night speech in his southern hometown of Davao city that he would never travel to America “in this lifetime.”

At an economic forum Thursday in Beijing, where he made a state visit, Duterte declared “my separation from the United States … both in military and economics also.” His pronouncement was met with applause, but Duterte did not explain what he exactly intended to do and when.

Duterte, however, said in an arrival speech in Davao that he was not severing ties with his country’s treaty ally that is home to a large number of Filipino expatriates.

“When you say severance of ties, you cut the diplomatic relations. I cannot do that. Why? It’s to the best interest of my country that we maintain that relationship,” Duterte said, adding that Filipinos were not ready to embrace such an option.

What he meant by his remarks in China, Duterte said, was ending a Philippine foreign policy that closely leaned toward the U.S.

Ahead of his China visit, Duterte made a series of pronouncements to curb Philippine security engagements with the U.S., including the removal of American counterterrorism forces in the country’s south and his opposition to planned joint patrols with the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea. He also wanted to stop annual joint combat exercises the Philippines hosted alongside the U.S. military that China opposes.

Duterte has said he did not want to embroil the Philippines in an unwinnable war with China, which could instead be tapped as a major trading partner and source of development funds.

U.S. officials said they have not received any formal Philippine notice of Duterte’s pronouncements, adding the alliance benefits both countries and should continue to blossom.

However, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said today there had been “too many troubling public statements” by Duterte in recent months leading to uncertainty about his intent. He said that the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia would discuss that uncertainty when he travels to the Philippines this weekend.

U.S.-Philippine ties also got attention on the U.S. presidential campaign trail Friday. Republican candidate Donald Trump told a rally in North Carolina that the Philippine shift toward closer relations with China after decades of a pro-U.S. foreign policy showed that “America has grown weak.”

He said that the Philippines is a “very important strategic ally” and China and Russia “are probably going to take it.”

Duterte’s reaching out to China, which has been locked in longstanding territorial disputes with the Philippines in the South China Sea, and his severe criticisms of the U.S. has come under fire at home.

Former Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, who brought the triumphant arbitration case against China over the disputes, said Duterte’s shift from Washington to Beijing should be regarded “a national tragedy.”

“The declared shift in foreign policy, casting aside a long-time reliable ally to hastily embrace an aggressive neighbor that vehemently rejects international law, is both unwise and incomprehensible,” del Rosario said in a statement.

“What is unfolding before us must be considered a national tragedy, which does not need to happen,” he said.

The criticism by del Rosario, a respected Asian diplomat, is among the strongest so far of Duterte’s declared policy to back away from America while reaching out to China and Russia. His main political ally, former President Fidel Ramos, has also criticized Duterte’s profane tirades against President Barack Obama and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

As the foreign secretary of Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, del Rosario spearheaded the filing of an arbitration case that challenged the validity of China’s claims to virtually the entire South China Sea. In its July ruling, the tribunal invalidated China’s claims under a 1982 U.N. treaty in an embarrassing defeat that Beijing has ignored.

The U.S. and its Western and Asian allies have called on China to respect the outcome.

At the end of Duterte’s trip to China, both countries announced in a joint statement several trade and business deals and closer cooperation on a range of concerns. They added they have resumed dialogue on the South China Sea.

There was no mention of the arbitration ruling or Duterte’s call for China to respect the rights of Filipinos to fish in the disputed Scarborough Shoal, where Beijing’s coast guard ships continue to drive them away. But both sides agreed to continue talking.

“Without prejudice to other mechanisms, a bilateral consultation mechanism can be useful, which will meet regularly on current and other issues of concern to either side on the South China Sea,” the joint statement said.

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Associated Press writer Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.

49 comments
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  • Oh come on. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Be a big boy and make big boy decisions one way or the other.

  • Oh no no…what you said, you can’t take it back Mr. Duterte. Many, many Americans would like to cut the ties to our allies and waiting for the opportunity to do so. Mr. Duterte is just speeding the process along. Mr. Trump has put in his two cents worth, and the value of his pronouncement is far below that investment. Mr. Trump’s disparaging comments about Mexicans probably does include some Filipinos because he can’t tell their names apart. THAT is what you are feeding Mr. Duterte.

  • Duarte is dangerous and unstable, I feel sorry for the Philippines. Lets hope we dont make the same mistake.

  • Singapore is the staunchest U.S. ally in the SE Asia region. It’s location is strategic and the U.S. has, in-place, a US-Singapore Strategic Framework Agreement where some US Navy littoral combat ships are rotationally deployed to Singapore. The U.S. should explore an expansion of this agreement.

    • Singapore has one of the world’s strictest laws forbidding drugs, gum chewing, smoking to an extent. Enforced by caning and hefty fines. Visiting U.S. military are always cautioned to respect and obey their laws or else. Your idea will never work on a large scale with our troops.

    • I wouldn’t say Singapore is a strong ally of the U.S. if it means going against China. 74% of Singapore’s population are Chinese. Singapore will probably lean toward whichever side leaves them alone and doesn’t interfere with their business and culture.

      • Sailfish1, yours seems to be the only even-keeled comment thus far. Most seem to think that politics is like football. You’re either a fan of the home team (U.S.) or an enemy. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is a politician, and his game is politics, not football. In politics, no country, especially the smaller ones, which make up the vast majority, can afford to allow treaties to undermine its own well-being and survival. The U.S. has to accept this reality. And it does. We’re not stupid. Does the U.S. break treaties? Ask the Native Americans and the Native Hawaiians. In fact, ask the world. See Alfred W. McCoy’s “You Must Follow International Law (Unless You’re America): How Washington Gave Itself a Global Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card” (The Nation, 2/24/15, http://tinyurl.com/zatn9ao). Finally, I know we’re pissed at Duterte, but let’s keep racial slurs and insults out of our conversation. Our Filipino braddahs and sistahs have earned and deserve our respect.

  • His days are numbered. I don’t think he will make it to Christmas with all the drug dealers that were executed and the lost income to the suppliers. Would like to say less than 7 days.

    • Why would you want to embolden the drug cartels with that statement. It seems as if you look up to drug dealers and criminals and want them controlling our children and neighborhoods. Those who deal in drugs are the scourge of the earth.

  • Although he made asinine remarks about Philippine-American relations before negotiations with the Chinese, he found out that they are for real and mean business. You cannot outsmart a Chinese, they are 2 steps ahead, always. They will squeeze for even a penny.

  • Wait for it! Now comes the demand for money for the Typhoon. Notice there isn’t any news about China donating tens of million for it.

  • Hahahaha!

    “When I said ‘Separate’ I didn’t mean that you can’t send me money anymore. Oh and by the way, please don’t interfere with the ‘remittances’ sent by our people who live in other countries. These are a significant part of our GDP.”

  • this guy is a total screw ball. Eff u bookbook. Go to hell and die murderer.

    The President of the Philippines is a Hitler Murder who should be shot dead.

    14 Purple Hearts and two MoH. I did not agree to have any of my other medals changed. So I am a two timing MoH that says to the Pilipino Thug Eff Off and Shut the Eff Up.

    • Fascinating. Of course the Medal of Honor has been awarded twice to 19 individuals, none of whom are still living…

    • Instead of mass executions for alleged drug dealers and users, why not just build gas chambers in the Philippines?

  • Could it be that the real purpose of killing all the alleged “drug dealers, etc.” is to send a message to all his countrymen that says “don’t oppose or mess with me or you will end up the same way”, on his way to establishing a his dictatorship?

  • Yeah, right. Why do we need them? We have the most powerful Navy in history, Australia, Guam, and Okinawa are close, not to mention Hawaii or Diego Garcia or even the subs. If this strong man wants to play dun du da let him, without the U.S eating insults. We can be anywhere in the world in force in a matter of hours if not minutes, so we can bring those troops home and let them rebuild our roads and bridges. But it would be foolish to assume that this is the whole story. So what businesses are benefitting from our presence in the P.I. and who are their lobbyists? That is probably the more interesting question…

  • It sells well in his country that idolizes “celebrity” – Ms. Marcos, Mr. Pacman,etc. Doesn’t matter if they have a brain or not or have any ethical standards. In general, Phillipines is one of the most corrupt countries in Asia and has fared badly in economic growth, in spite of thousands of billions contributed by US since end of WW2. One of their biggest money contributor is the return of money from all the cheap labor sent overseas, contributing over 10% of their GDP. Let this pathetic piece of islands nation go to hell and we can all help the process by stopping all aid and trade. Let them crawl on their knees to China, who’s leaders will pay a pittance to the corrupt leaders in exchange for free access to all the fishing grounds.

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