MANILA - The Philippines will no longer hold joint exercises with the United States but it will maintain its military alliances, President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday.
"We will not break our alliances, the US-RP [PH], but we need not really break or abrogate existing treaties because they say it would provide us with the umbrella," Duterte said at the 115th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Coastguard in Manila.
He likewise said the country will "maintain all military alliances because they say we need it for our defense."
Right before this statement, however, he reiterated that the Philippines will stop holding joint exercises with the US military.
"I insist that we realign that there will be no more exercises next year do not prepare I told Defense Sec. Lorenzana do not prepare, I do not want it anymore and I will chart an independent foreign policy," he said.
Duterte has been issuing strong statements against the United States since it began criticizing him for the alleged extrajudicial killings in the country.
Since he assumed office this year, there have been at least 1,195 drug-related fatalities in the country and at least 697 killings by unidentified assailants.
Duterte lamented the culture of violence was already there during the previous administration.
"My God, be honest to yourself the culture of violence started when the drug problem was allowed to go astray all these years," he said.
Saying he's used to being the "whipping boy" of human rights advocates, he said he has also formally invited the US, the European Union, the United Nations and all his international critics to see the situation in the Philippines themselves.
"Ask me any question under the sun. The only thing I ask of you is to afford me the right to be heard and then allow me some questions so that I would know you are not heaping lies on me," he said.
But the President noted that the country should be thankful to him because of what he's done regarding the drug problem.
"Had I not been elected president, nobody would have known the sheer number of our problem. If I can't do it [solve this], nobody can," he said.-- With reports from Reuters