Ex-generals urged to ‘reset’ relations with US

Giovanni Nilles - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Some retired generals have asked President Duterte to “reset” his foreign policies in a way that could make the US and the Philippines “great friends again.”

Duterte declined to name the generals who wrote him a lengthy letter on the issue, but he revealed in an interview with Russian television RT that despite his independent foreign policy, he is not yet ready to form new military alliances.

“I’m not at liberty to make it public, but there are feelings now, even retired generals… they wrote me a long letter, and the last sentence is that, ‘there is no doubt in our minds that we can be great friends again and reset the whole thing’,” the Chief Executive said when asked if his attitude toward the US would change after the election victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential election.

He added he is ready to “cooperate” with “new friends” China and Russia, especially with regard to weapons purchase after US Sen. Ben Cardin said he would oppose US firearms sale to the Philippines due to rising reports of extrajudicial killings in the country.

More than 4,600 have been killed in the government’s war against illegal drugs. About 2,000 of the deaths were results of police operations.

“You know, every time, and even before – every time the United States criticizes us or reprimands us they always connect it with the sentence: ‘If you do not do this, if you do not do that, if you do this and we do not like that, we will cut the assistance.’ Every time. Several past presidents,” Duterte said.

He added he is not surprised if many Filipinos still favor a US-Philippine alliance as the country has been an American colony for 50 years.

“It should not surprise you. It’s ingrained in the genealogy of the Filipinos. But, little by little I’ve been telling them, I made this decision because… I think the Filipinos know the reason why in their hearts. Because I have been very vocal and used the strongest terms, when I said: ‘We are not a nation of beggars. We will survive without your assistance. Please, stop it’,” Duterte also said.

On forging stronger alliance with China and Russia, Duterte said he did not have the chance to discuss the issue when he met Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

“And when the conference ended, as we stood up I said, ‘I have to go ahead, Mr. President,’” Duterte said, referring to Putin. “And then he smiled again and shook my hand and said, ‘I will wait for you in Russia’… In all of our talks, I never said that ‘I want this’ or ‘I want that’… I just also (said) I just want to be friends, to show to the world that I am not limited to a few countries, that I have to interact with the rest of the world, because we are a sovereign state,” Duterte said.

He stressed the Philippines is still a US treaty ally.

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