During his interview with Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television, President Rodrigo Duterte said that he is willing to participate in joint military exercises, or “war games,” with China and Russia, adding that he will stop war games between the Philippines and traditional ally the United States.
Asked if he would consider joint war games with China and Russia, Duterte responded: “Yes, I will, I have given enough time for the Americans to play with the Filipino soldiers.”
This interview was broadcasted on October 17, days before Duterte’s four-day state visit to Beijing to boost ties after the two countries got involved in a maritime dispute over the South China Sea.
“This will be the last. It has been programmed,” Duterte said.
Duterte maintained his earlier stance about ending the US-PH joint military exercises to avoid antagonizing China, declaring the October 2016 war games as the last one during his term.
Even Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on October 18 that China-PH war games are possible.
However, he said that the issue would not be discussed during Duterte’s visit to Beijing, adding that will likely be discussed at another meeting.
“There are no ramifications if ever there are really efforts to hold joint military exercises with China,” Lorenzana said.
However, former National Security Adviser Roilo Golez has a different take on the issue. He said that the Philippines should not play with a “potential enemy,” seeing as how China has not stopped claiming the West Philippine Sea using their nine-dash line.
“War games between the Philippine military and Chinese military? China has not stopped claiming around 90% of the West Philippine Sea through their aggressive nine-dash line. China has seized, is now occupying and is blockading sizable parts of our Exclusive Economic Zone (Mischief Reef, Ayungin Shoal, RectoBank and the seas around Scarborough Shoal),” Golez said.
“We therefore have a potential conflict with China and that conflict could become hostile necessitating the use of force by China as it has already done so by blockading Scarborough Shoal,” he added.
Golez also said that engaging in joint military exercises with China will expose the Philippines’ level of security.
“Conducting war games with them would expose the innards of our equipment, tactics, communications and doctrine,” he said.
“I know that China’s snooping ability enables them to know a lot of the aforementioned vital information. But Mr. Secretary of National Defense and our Commander in Chief, why make it easier for a potential territorial enemy?” Golez added.
Someone asked him if Golez thought the Philippines should keep playing with American soldiers then and Golez emphasized his point about China being a potential enemy, all while debunking the commenter’s claims.
Here’s the interesting exchange:
Another commenter said that if Philippines pushes through with the war games with China, the Chinese could use them as their Trojan horse.
Someone also asked: “Sleeping with the enemy?”
Is the Philippines then sleeping with the enemy? Or is Duterte playing China against the US, which could prove to be a smart move for the Philippines, as political scientist Richard Heydarian and Public Policy professor Eduardo Araral claimed?