No PH-US joint patrols in Scarborough: Yasay

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 24 2016 05:41 PM

The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) patrols the disputed South China Sea with the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82). U.S. Navy photo/file

MANILA - The Philippines will not have any joint patrols with American military forces in the Scarborough Shoal during the Duterte administration, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr. said Monday.

Yasay, who met with visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel, said a joint patrol with the U.S. in the disputed area will not suggest peace to other countries.

Yasay, however, said the Duterte administration will continue to respect the Philippines' existing treaties and agreements with the U.S.

"We don't want to have... joint patrols for instance in the Scarborough area with the U.S., and try to make the suggestion that we are putting this up as a deterrent against any bad intention that the Chinese might have," Yasay said.

"This is not conducive to a peaceful resolution of our dispute, especially so that in the past, it has precisely resulted in both parties digging in and made a peaceful resolution of the dispute even farthest from achieving," he added.

FINAL SAY ON JOINT EXERCISES

Yasay also said President Rodrigo Duterte will be the one to decide whether joint Philippine-U.S. military exercises, such as the annual Balikatan, will continue.

He said that the Mutual Defense Board (MDB) has the power to make a recommendation on the issue, but Duterte will assess if the annual war games are beneficial to the Philippines.

"That is to enable us to be self-reliant in our defensive requirements, especially in addressing our internal and external threats to our national security. If this will not be achieved, the president said that there is no purpose of proceeding with this," he said.

Asked if there will still be military exercises with the U.S. next year, Yasay replied: "I am not too sure."

Yasay said he did not discuss joint military exercises and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with Russel.

He also denied that Russel called his attention about Duterte's series of controversial statements about the U.S.

"I have not come up with that kind of discussion with Secretary Russel. I know that what we discussed about is that there is a continuing need for us to make sure that we get to talk to each other and try to resolve whatever differences and clarifications have to be made," Yasay told reporters.

Russel warned on Monday that Duterte's fiery rhetoric and bloody war on crime are becoming a growing concern around the world.

He said many people around the world were becoming increasingly worried about the Filipino president's repeated tirades. 

"The succession of controversial statements, comments and a real climate of uncertainty about the Philippines' intentions have created consternation in a number of countries," Russel said.

Russel said he directly conveyed to Yasay American concerns about Duterte's war on crime, which has claimed about 3,700 lives in less than four months and raised fears about mass extrajudicial killings.

"I also reiterated the importance that we place and that others place on due process and respect for the rights of citizens as an important part of protecting our communities as well," Russel said. "And the growing uncertainty about this and other issues is bad for business as well."

US Secretary of State John Kerry also rang Yasay on Monday to discuss the alliance, Russel said.

Duterte has frequently voiced deep anger at American criticism of his efforts to eliminate drugs in society, repeatedly branding President Barack Obama as a "son of a whore" and telling him to "go to hell" for expressing concerns.

Duterte, who describes himself as a socialist, has sought to diminish his nation's alliance with the United States in favour of closer ties with China and Russia. - with a report from Agence France-Presse