MANILA – The public, particularly Americans in the Philippines and Filipinos in the US, should not react to any of President Rodrigo Duterte's statements yet, an official said.
Officials left to manage affairs in the country are not rushing to interpret his pronouncements regarding his “separation” from the United States, Assistant Secretary Marie Banaag said in a press briefing on Friday, because they are awaiting policy guidelines for “clear direction.”
“We can only say that once there is an announcement, whichever agency has the jurisdiction to craft policy, they should understand this. Kailangan ng papel [We need documents] to interpret his words officially,” she said.
Duterte and his entourage have yet to return from their visit to Beijing.
Banaag said she asked presidential spokesman, Secretary Martin Andanar about the issue, and he only reiterated that they cannot yet interpret the means and bounds of Duterte’s pronouncements.
Earlier, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in an interview with [email protected] that Duterte is merely “breaking dependence” on the Western superpower, and the country does not need to severe ties and stop trade with the US.
On Thursday, Duterte announced his "a military, not social, but economic separation” from the US following a bilateral meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Aside from saying that America has “lost,” he also said that he realigned himself to China’s ideological flow.
“Maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to (President Vladimir) Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world - China, Philippines and Russia. It's the only way," he said.
The US Department of State is set to formally ask the Philippines to explain the separation. In the meantime, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said they have yet to receive any official request to ‘"alter any of our many issues where we bilaterally cooperate.”