Saturday, October 1, 2016

Philippine President Duterte Cancels Future Military Exercises with U.S.

By Jim Emerson, staff writer
This week in Vietnam, President Rodrigo Duterte told a collection of Filipinos his government would cease training with the U.S. following the upcoming PHIBEX 33 amphibious exercises off Luzon next month. “So I’m serving notice now to the Americans. I will maintain the military alliance, the RP-US pact which our countries signed in the early 50s. But I will establish new alliances for trade and commerce.” During this meeting he called for expanded trade relations with China and Russia.
During the planned exercise--PHIBEX 33—some 1,400 U.S. service members based in Okinawa, Japan will work side-by-side with 500 Philippine Armed Forces personnel to improve capabilities and more efficient operations during a natural disaster or armed conflict. Additional exercises between the U.S. and the Philippines further enhance “tactical-level combat training and humanitarian civic assistance projects throughout the Philippines.” 
While on the Presidential campaign trail, Duterte indicated he would keep the enhanced defense cooperation agreement (EDCA) with the United States. He was aware that the presence of the U.S. Military in the Philippines would boost its defenses against China’s encroachment.  China is a major trading partner for the nation and the weakness of America’s Leadership in any diplomatic confrontation with China may require the Philippines to severely curtail American military presence in the region.  The EDCA was established by executive order of the Philippine President and could be quickly undone by another executive order.
President Duterte views the United States with a certain level of hostility. This stems from the complicated and mysterious explosion at the Evergreen Hotel in Davao City.  He also regards the Philippines as simply a pawn between great powers and would rather be left alone. The President would put aside his distrust of the U.S. if he could depend upon Barack Obama for his nation’s security. Yet if Duterte believes he can halt China’s expansion in Philippine waters by reducing U.S. presence in the country, he just may tell the United States to leave.
Such a move would greatly impact the U.S. presence in the region and could severely diminish freedom of navigation in the South China sea. If the United States’ longtime ally turns to China or Russia it would seriously undermine the creditably of Washington in South East Asia, thus surrendering disputed territory and oil to China.
Just another effect of Barack Obama’s foreign policy initiatives. 

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