After President Rodrigo Duterte’s repeated suggestions that the Philippines might pull out of security agreements it has with the United States, his defense minister is trying to clear the air. Reuters reports:
The Philippine defense minister sought to patch up cracks in a military alliance with the United States on Wednesday, saying President Rodrigo Duterte, who has appeared intent on scrapping joint programs, might be misinformed about their value.
Referring to recent strongly worded comments by Duterte, in which he has declared that the Philippines military gained little from U.S. security ties, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the armed forces were still weak and the country got a lot out of the U.S. relationship.
“That’s why I said the president was misinformed, because I think the information he is getting is incomplete,” Lorenzana told reporters, a day after the launch of the latest round of PHIBLEX military exercises involving troops from both sides.
“Maybe, the defense ministry and the armed forces were remiss in providing him the correct information. This, we will address in the coming days.”
The minister’s remarks suggest either that Duterte’s recent behavior might not be a sign of imminent policy changes, or are at least indicative of a rift between the President and his army. They also might help explain why the Pentagon seemed so unperturbed by Duterte’s comments over the weekend: their contacts have told them not to worry.
How far will Duterte go? One starts to wonder whether anyone knows for sure.