President Rodrigo Duterte clarified that his earlier statement about the separation of the Philippines with the US is only in a “separation in foreign policies” and is not completely cutting ties with the Western superpower.
Filipinos were left puzzled from this remark by the President which was spoken during the Philippines-China Trade and Investment Form in Beijing. There had been worries that Duterte’s statement would affect the jobs of Filipinos who work for American companies and the Filipinos who are residing in the US. After returning from his state visits to Brunei and China, respectively, the President clarified the issue last Friday evening.
“You know, you have to take my words in the context of what I’ve been saying all along. It is not a severance of ties. In the severance of ties you cut the diplomatic relations. I cannot do that. It is in the best interest of my country that we maintain that relationship (with the U.S.),” the President clarified.
Duterte stressed that it is only a “separation in foreign policies”, a different route from the past where Filipinos always followed what the United States prefers. This statement is similar to the official statement of the Malacanang Palace where Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said, “It is a reinstatement of his position on charting an independent foreign policy as provided in the Philippine Constitution.”
With regards to discussions and agreements that had been accomplished in his trip to Brunei and China, the President said that most of it were concerning economic cooperation and partnerships that will be of benefit to the people.
Duterte claimed that he and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei talked about deepening bilateral relations especially through economic cooperation.
Likewise, the President said that there were 13 signed agreements in his visit to China and that most of it is concerning the economic relations of the two countries.
The President revealed that discussion covered a lot of areas including that of trade and investment, infrastructure and tourism, science and technology, and health.
The issue about the territorial dispute in the South China Sea had also been mentioned but the President said that there was an agreement between the two countries to “settle disputes through peaceful means in accordance with international law.”
Furthermore, the President was asked about his opinion on the violent dispersal of the protesters who were at the US Embassy on Wednesday, October 19.
Duterte said that he wanted to talk to both sides that were involved in the incident, the police and the militants. He further explained that he is not giving justification to what happened but the matter should be treated with “civility.”