Panelo: The Philippines won't be subservient to China

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Philippines won't be subservient to China, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Sal Panelo said on Monday.

So why is the country building closer ties with the Chinese? Panelo explained that President Rodrigo Duterte just wants to do away with the kind of foreign policy followed by the previous administration.

Panelo said it was a foreign policy that always followed what the Americans wanted.

"Before, our policy was we're always toeing the line of the U.S. government. and it appears that whoever their enemies are will be the enemies of this country," Panelo said.

In a recent trip to Beijing, Duterte announced he is "separating" from the U.S.

Duterte later clarified his statement, saying the Philippines will pursue a foreign policy independent from America. Some critics have expressed concern that this may weaken ties between the Philippines and the U.S.

But similar to what other Cabinet members have said, Panelo said all existing treaties with the U.S. stand.

"International agreements will be honored until such time that the terms of those treaties and agreements state otherwise. They can be negotiated in the terms beneficial and protective of Philippine interests," he said.

CNN Philippines' Ina Andolong contributed to this report.