Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte questioned the importance of a defense treaty with the U.S. Tuesday. However, he added that he will not repeal the treaty.
The controversial president reportedly criticized the military exercises between the two countries, saying that they were beneficial only to the U.S. The war games, which involve about 500 Filipino troops and 1,400 U.S. troops, ended earlier than planned.
Duterte said last month that these war games would be the final one under his administration thereby putting a 65-year-old military alliance, one of the U.S.’ oldest in Asia, in question.
“You [U.S.] are scheduled to hold war games, which China does not want. I will serve notice to you now that this will be the last military exercise. Jointly, Philippines [and] the U.S.? Last one,” Duterte said.
But Filipino military officials denied that the early end to the war games had anything to do with Duterte’s comments.
Duterte said earlier that he wanted to initiate “new alliances for trade and commerce” with Russia and added Tuesday that he is likely to visit Russia this month. The 71-year-old is to visit Brunei, China and Japan this month.
Speaking to newly appointed government officials, Duterte reportedly said, “I will go to Japan, then probably I will go to Russia.”
Duterte said last week that the European Union and the U.S. can “go ahead” and suspend financial aid to the Philippines following their criticism of his war on drugs campaign.
“Go away, bring your money to somewhere else. We will survive as a nation,” Duterte said. “How do you look at us, mendicants? We will survive. Even if we'll go through hardships, we will survive. But we will never, never compromise our dignity. If you think it is high time for you guys to withdraw your assistance, go ahead, we will not beg for it.”
Duterte’s brutal war on drugs, which has claimed over 3,000 lives since he came to power in June, has received criticism from several world leaders and international institutions.