Davao City: Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has clarified his comments that seemed to call for a split from the United States, saying he was advocating a “separation of foreign policy” rather than “a severance of ties”.
During a press conference in Davao City after his return from a state visit to China, CNN quoted Duterte as saying that “It is not severance of ties. You say severance of ties, you cut the diplomatic relations. I cannot do that.”
“Why? It is in the best interest of my country that we maintain that relationship. Why? Because there are many Filipinos in the United States. Well, Americans of Filipino ancestry.”
“Why? Because the people of my country [are] not ready to accept. I said separation — what I was really saying was separation of a foreign policy.”
There was widespread shock after Duterte announced his “separation” from the United States, suggesting he would cut both economic and military ties in favour of moving closer to China.
“America has lost now. I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow,” Duterte told business leaders on Thursday in Beijing.
“And maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world: China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way.”
In a statement on Friday, Duterte’s office said the Philippines had no intention to renege on treaties or agreements with allies.
The President’s comments were “an assertion that we are an independent and sovereign nation, now finding common ground with friendly neighbours with shared aspirations in the spirit of mutual respect, support and cooperation,” the statement said.
Trade Minister Ramon Lopez told CNN that the Philippines “would not stop trade and investment with the US”.
“(Duterte) has decided to strengthen further and rekindle the ties with China and the ASEAN region,” Lopez said, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.