The US seeks official clarification of Duterte’s announcement made on at least two occasions during his Beijing visit.
The White House said that Pres Rodrigo Duterte made too many troubling statements.
‘Separation’ from the United States is ‘not severance of ties,’
President Duterte pointed out Friday night upon his arrival from Beijing, where he bared his ‘separation’ from the US and his pivot to China and Russia in an announcement that left even his close officials bewildered.
It’s not severance of ties because when you say severance of ties you cut the diplomatic relation, he cannot do that, the President said.
Duterte said it is in the best interest of the country that it keeps its diplomatic relations with the US.
The Separation of his foreign policy, that it need not dovetail the foreign policy of America and that what he actually means, he explained.
‘Sever means to cut. Separate is just to chart another way of doing it,’ he added.
Duterte clarifies that it is not severance of ties because severance of ties means you cut the diplomatic relations and he cannot do it, the President said.
The White House has seen too many troubling public statements from President Duterte over the last several months, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.
It has added an element of unnecessary uncertainty into the relationship of these two nations that does not advance the interests of either country.
He admitted that cutting the country’s ties with the US is something many Filipinos are not ready to accept.
He also cited the large number of Filipinos living and working in the US, a former colonizer and currently the Philippines’ biggest trading partner.
The President said he is mindful of the economic implications of cutting ties with the US.
‘That’s why better be careful with the word ‘we separate or severed, severed our diplomatic relations.’
The second one is not feasible because the Filipinos in the United States will kill him, the President said.
He added that the Americans – especially those in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry – have as much to worry about as the Filipinos in the event of severance of ties between the US and the Philippines.
‘How about the Americans working for, here also in the Philippines? If he should worry about the Filipinos, they should also about the Americans here and their investments,’ the President said.
When he said separation, the President was talking about the separation of a foreign policy.
He also said he may have to consult with the military and the police on how to deal with existing agreements with the US, including the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
He is worried that they would not get out of this country, that he has to force them.
That is his worry. Why he should be worried?
It will affect EDCA and the rest of the agreements? Maybe.
But he would have to consult the military, the police and everybody because at the end of the day, it is all security, the President said.
The country’s military relationship with the US is contained in the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.
Duterte stressed it’s now time for Filipinos to chart their own destiny and not just take a ‘cue’ from the US or follow its dictates.
Duterte also defended his decision to veer towards China and Russia.
It could be a military alliance, could be an economic alliance and it could be an economic bloc, he explained.
When the president was asked by an American journalist whom he would choose if he were to vote in the coming US elections?
Duterte said he would rather not make ‘unnecessary comments’ but cited ‘splendid relations with America and the fact that there are already millions of Filipinos, maybe, in that country.
He also admitted looking up to Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as a hero.