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Duterte: No More Military Exercises with the U.S.

Sept. 29, 2016 (EIRNS)—Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is in Vietnam, discussing with Vietnamese leaders his new policy toward the South China Sea, based on cooperation rather than confrontation with China. To drive home the point, he told thei press in Vietnam that the joint U.S.-Philippines exercise scheduled for next week will be the last between the two countries.

"So, I am serving notice now to the Americans and those who are allies," he said. "This will be the last military exercise. Jointly, Philippines-U.S., the last one."

The warhawks in the United States, including President Barack Obama and his Defense Secretary "Nuclear Ash" Carter, had previously counted on the Philippines, and to a lesser extent Vietnam, as the two allies in Southeast Asia in military operation against China. Vietnam has already made clear that it intends to maintain strong ties with China, including military ties, and Duterte’s visit will facilitate cooperation in forging the new, peaceful relations in the region, without US interference.

Duterte said he was not ending the military alliance with the United States, which goes back to 1951, but that he will not continue military operations which are a potential threat to China, since he is insistent that improving ties with China is necessary to lift the Philippines out of economic decay and to prevent any kind of military adventure in the region. Both Chinese experts and Duterte himself have pointed out that the only investments from the United States in the Philippines have been in services (thousands of potentially productive young Filipino men and women forced to work in call centers all night long, servicing the population of their former colonial masters) and in mining, but without any contribution to infrastructure or industry. China’s Maritime Silk Road is aimed at correcting that destructive policy.

Duterte has not yet indicated an intention to cancel the EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement) between the United States and the Philippines, rammed through as an executive order by his predecesor Noynoy Aquino. Thus far the United States continues to build up the five bases across the Philippines which that agreement permits. However, at the end of the upcoming exercises, the issue of canceling that agreement via executive order will be on the table.

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