Duterte wants end to Philippines' war games with US

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED 11:58 a.m.)  — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday declared his intention to end the joint military exercise between the Philippines and the United States, saying this will be its last year.

The president noted that he wants to establish new alliances with China for trade and commerce. Duterte said that Beijing is not in favor of the war games with the US.

"I would serve notice to you now that this will be the last military exercise. Jointly, Philippines-US, the last one," Duterte said in his meeting with the Filipino community in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Duterte, however, assured that the military alliance between the Philippines and the US will be maintained.

READ: US-Philippine combat drills announced under critical Duterte

"So I’m serving notice now to the Americans and to those who are allies: I will maintain the military alliance because there is an RP-US Pact which our countries signed in the early ‘50s. But I will establish new alliances for trade and commerce and you are scheduled to hold war games again, which China does not want," the president said.

Duterte, however, is known to make broadsides against the US and other international bodies such as the European Union, after which his officials would issue clarifications to.

READ: Damage control after Duterte's tough talk

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. insisted that Duterte did not mention the last joint military exercise between Filipino and American troops.

"He did not say that at all. What he said is that as he said before, there would be no joint patrols with a gray ship of any nation in the South China because that would be a provocative act," Yasay told members of the press in an ambush interview.

Yasay stressed that Duterte will continue to respect the country's existing treaties and commitments.

In his speech in Vietnam, Duterte also said that he will not send gray ships or war ships in the South China Sea because the Philippines cannot go to war.

"I am not ready to commit the soldiers of this country just to be massacred and besides—besides t***** ina, ang battleground, ang Palawan? Naloko na," Duterte said.

The 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty dictates that both nations would support each other if either one of the Philippines or the US were to be attacked by an external party.

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