HANOI, Sept 29 (Mabuhay) – Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. has denied hearing President Rodrigo Duterte declare the end of joint military exercises with the Philippines’ treaty ally, the United States.
Yasay told reporters that what the president meant was that the Philippines would not have joint patrols with a warship of another country outside the country’s territorial waters.
“We are not going to undertake any joint patrol ever in our exclusive economic zone which is outside of the 12-mile territorial limit in a joint patrol with a gray ship of another country,” said Yasay, who is part of Duterte’s official delegation on an official visit here.
Duterte earlier in September said he didn’t want Philippine forces to be involved in joint patrols outside the country’s territory.
“We will not join any expedition of patrolling the sea. I will not allow it because I don’t want my country to be involved in hostile act,” Duterte said during the 48th anniversary of the 250th Philippine Airlift Wing on September 13.
“I just want to patrol our territorial waters… We do not go into patrol or join any army because I do not want trouble,” he added.
Asked about Duterte’s remarks that the next Philippines’ next “war games” with the US will be the last, Yasay said, “I have not heard that so I cannot make any comment on that.”
In a speech before the Filipino community on Wednesday night, Duterte announced that he wanted an end to the Philippines’ joint military exercises with the US.
“You are scheduled to hold war games again, which China does not want. I will serve notice to you now that this will be the last military exercise. Jointly, Philippines, the US, the last one,” Duterte said, while adding he will continue to uphold the Philippines’ treaties with the US.
Aside from the Mutual Defense Act of 1951, the Philippines and the US also have a Visiting Forces Agreement that covers the conduct of joint military exercises in the archipelago.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon thinks that future military exercises between the Philippines and the US have not been canceled.
Esperon, who’s also a part of Duterte’s delegation, believes that the president only referred to joint military exercises for 2016.
“Ang pagkakaintindi ko, it’s the last for the year. We will clarify,” Esperon told reporters. (MNS)