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Philippines says it won’t help U.S. patrols in South China Sea


    Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, center, answers questions from reporters after attending a conference in Makati, south of Manila, Philippines on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016.

MANILA » The Philippine defense secretary said Thursday it’s highly unlikely his country will allow the U.S. military to use it as a springboard for freedom of navigation patrols in the disputed South China Sea to avoid antagonizing China.

Delfin Lorenzana said U.S. ships and aircraft could use bases in Guam, Okinawa or fly from aircraft carriers to patrol the disputed waters.

Under President Rodrigo Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, some U.S. aircraft and ships stopped in the Philippines on the way to patrolling the disputed waters to challenge China’s territorial claims.

Duterte, who took office in June, has taken steps to mend ties with China and became hostile toward the Obama administration, after it raised concerns over Duterte’s deadly crackdown on illegal drugs.

Asked if the Philippines will continue to host U.S. ships and aircraft patrolling the disputed waters, Lorenzana said that Duterte will not likely allow that to happen “to avoid any provocative actions that can escalate tensions in the South China Sea. It’s unlikely.”

“We’ll avoid that for the meantime,” Lorenzana said. “Anyway, the U.S. can fly over there coming from other bases.”

U.S. officials did not comment immediately. The commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, Adm. Harry Harris, said last month that despite Duterte’s rhetoric, military cooperation with Manila has not changed.

Duterte has publicly threatened to scale back the Philippines’ military engagements with the U.S., including scuttling a plan to carry out joint patrols with the U.S. Navy in the disputed waters, which he said China opposes.

U.S.-Philippine annual combat exercises have been reduced and will be redesigned to focus on disaster-response and humanitarian missions. Among the maneuvers to be dropped starting next year are amphibious landing exercises and beach raids, aimed at enhancing the country’s territorial defense.

Duterte’s actions have become a hindrance to U.S. efforts to reassert its presence in Asia, although the U.S. military has vowed to continue patrolling one of the world’s busiest commercial waterways.

After Duterte met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in October, China allowed Filipinos to fish at the disputed Scarborough Shoal. China took control of the rich fishing area in 2012 after a tense standoff with Philippine government ships.

Philippine coast guard ships have also resumed patrols at the shoal.

Aside from the easing of tensions at Scarborough, Chinese coast guard ships are no longer blocking Philippine resupply ships from Second Thomas Shoal, farther south in the Spratlys, Lorenzana said.

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  • Why is it necessary for the U.S. to patrol the South China Sea? If it needs patrolling, let the countries that border the South China Sea do it – i.e. the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and maybe Taiwan. The U.S. needs to understand that most foreign countries do not want them around.

        • If you don’t have anything worthwhile to say, STFU. You can try to put people down but you don’t have any knowledge to counter their comments.

        • peum – you must not be too smart. All they are doing is attacking me, not saying anything to counter what I said. You haven’t said anything worthwhile either. “Really” is not a thought – it is a sign of stu*pi*dity.

    • sailfish1,

      It largely has to do with a projection of power by the U.S. It’s something we, as the biggest kid on the block, feels an obligation to do ever since Mao Zedong spanked us in the butt during the first year of the Korean War (aka “Police Action,” “Forgotten War”). We don’t have any treaty obligations that compel us to patrol the area, that’s why our efforts in the South China Sea are termed “Freedom of Navigation Patrols.”

      Bottom line: if we do nothing, then you can count on a further erosion of U.S. influence in the rest of the world. Witness how we failed to support, in any way, the Iranian dissidents when a slim, but golden chance presented itself. It’s no wonder that a lot of countries have doubts about our nation’s resolve or the courage of its leadership.

      • Now that’s a thoughtful reply, unlike the dribble from peanut, local, and peum.

        However, my question was why do we need to be “the biggest kid on the block”? In reality, China is the “biggest kid” in the South China Sea. As far as “further erosion of U.S. influence in the rest of the world” – we cannot force our influence on the Philippines or any other country. If they request it, fine. But they haven’t and instead are telling us to back off. With that, we need to reassess our needs there.

  • Nothing unusual here. Lapdog to China, their “Boy” Duterte knows his limitations. Who ever gives him the most under the table money is his friend.

    Sad to say utterly corrupt and incompetent. Suffering the advanced effects of mental aging.

    • You don’t have a clue about anything. You make up du*mb accusations like “Who ever gives him the most under the table money is his friend”. Got any evidence? You call Duterte “incompetent” – he is a President, what are you?

      Nationalism is good but if you were smart, you would not be saying such stu*pid stuff.

  • The Philippines have sapped the American taxpayer for foreign and military aid for over 100 years with little to show for it, while Japan has effectively rebuilt itself after World War II, also with massive U.S. aid. The Philippines are a black hole for investment, so let them bleed the Chinese for a while. Obama’s too timid to do anything meaningful to afflict the PRC, so all of the U.S. military flights and ship maneuvers through the South China Sea are a big show as the Chinese militarization continues unabated on the shoals and man made islands. It’s sad that the elected leader of the Philippines, who presumably speaks for his people, has so much contempt for the U.S., but after watching Obama’s lackluster foreign policy performance and folding under Chinese pressure, you can’t really blame Duterte. It won’t be too long before China occupies the Philippines and then they’ll really regret turning their back on the U.S.

  • Looks like Duturte already sold his soul to China, so once you’re all in there’s no turning back for them. Watch that country turn from democratic to communist by the time that president is out of power.

    • Realize that the U.S. has already ” sold his soul to China” economically. Look at the huge trade we have with China – everything you pick up says “made in China”.

      Then realize that the U.S. is already doing everything possible to appease China. Trump cannot even take a phone call from the Taiwan President without getting criticized by our current administration.

      With that, don’t blame Duterte for learning from our own policies.

  • Let’s stop helping the Philippines entirely even in disasters until they IMPEACH THE PRESIDENT LIKE SOUTH KOREA. And stop all remittances to the Philippines residents.

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