MANILA, Philippines – A week after he declared that he would eventually break up with the United States, President Duterte changed his tune again yesterday as he declared that he would not cut military ties with allies even as he asked whether such partnerships were still needed in the time of powerful weapons and equipment.
His defense secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, also said it was still status quo as far as security ties between the Philippines and the US were concerned.
“We’re not giving up our relationship with the US,” Lorenzana told reporters at the Senate where he attended the hearing on the Department of National Defense’s proposed budget for 2017.
Speaking after an oath taking of new appointees in Malacañang, Duterte said he did not mean to “cancel or abrogate the military alliances” but asked: “Do you really think we need it? If there is a war? If we engage in skirmishes, do you think we really need America?”
Duterte vowed anew to strengthen the country’s relations with China and Russia, leaving the US way below the priorities of his administration.
“Do we need China and Russia for that matter, or do we need somebody? If they fight, if they launch ICBMS (intercontinental ballistic missiles) or Poseidon (aircraft), there will be no more America aid to talk of. There will no more be a country strong enough to rule,” he added.
“When that time comes, we won’t need anything but a priest. If you want, you can recite the mi ultimo adios (my last farewell).”
Duterte said the US should also watch its “arrogance” as Russian President Vladimir Putin would always get whatever he wanted.
“Let’s not make any mistake. If he wants something, he will really get it. He wanted Crimea and he simply went there to occupy it. America was not able to do anything,” the President said.
The Ukranian territory of Crimea was annexed by the Russian Federation on March 18, 2014. – With Christina Mendez