Duterte wants to end military exercises with U.S.

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Philippine marines with the Joint Rapid Reaction Force (JRRF), conduct an amphibious landing utilizing Philippine logistical navy ships to seize a scenario-based objective as part of Exercise Balikatan 2016, in Antique, Philippines, April 11, 2016. The JRRF, compiled of U.S. and Philippine forces, have worked together during the exercise to test their capabilities, maintain a high level of interoperability and to enhance combined combat readiness. Balikatan, which means "shoulder to shoulder" in Filipino, is an annual bilateral training exercise aimed at improving the ability of Philippine and U.S. military forces to work together during planning, contingency and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

Vietnam (CNN Philippines) — President Rodrigo Duterte has verbally given notice to the United States that the scheduled war games between the Philippines and the United States next month would be the last.

In his speech before the Filipino community in Hanoi Wednesday evening, Duterte said he would keep ties with the U.S. but would also be establishing new alliances with other countries like China and Russia.

"I will visit China. I will open the door for everyone. I will go to Russia. I'm serving notice now to the U.S.: I will maintain the alliance but I will establish new alliances.

"I serve notice to you now that this will be the last joint military exercise with U.S.," he said.

Related: Duterte wants to forge better ties with Russia, China

The U.S. and the Philippines have scheduled an annual Philippines Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) from October 4 to 12 in multiple locations in Luzon, including Palawan.

It will be the first war games between the two treaty allies under the Duterte administration.

Approximately 1,400 U.S. servicemen based in Okinawa and 500 Filipino soldiers will train "side-by-side to grow capabilities and better prepare to operate together during a natural disaster or armed conflict."

Out of context

Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., however, told reporters Duterte was misunderstood and his words were taken out of context.

He clarified that what the President was referring to was the joint military exercise with other countries within the territorial waters but outside the 12-mile radius.

Yasay said Duterte was not specifically referring to the Balikatan exercise.

“He said it very clearly even tonight that he will respect all of our treaty, commitment with the United States… This is how I understood his statements,” Yasay said. He added the Philippines’ agreements with the U.S. will continue.

The Philippines and U.S. signed a Mutual Defense Treaty in 1951, ordering each country to respond to any armed attack against its ally.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said he would have to clarify first with the President regarding the war games with U.S.

Esperon said from what he understood from the President's statement, next month's exercise with the U.S. would be the "last for the year."

He also said the alliance with the U.S. remains.