LIMA, Peru – Like estranged lovers that have agreed to be just friends, the Philippines and the United States resolved to maintain their relationship but refocus it to non-military efforts such as cooperating to fight terrorism, stop illegal drugs, and improve disaster response.
Meeting here at the sidelines of the 2-day APEC Ministerial Meeting which kicked off Thursday, November 17, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay and US Secretary of State John Kerry shook hands on the deal.
“Engaging ourselves with the United States insofar as military preparedness for invasion of countries like China then no longer holds true, because we're in the midst of this conflict or dispute we have insofar as South China Sea is concerned where we are committed to resolve this in peaceful manner,” Yasay told reporters after his bilateral talks with Kerry.
“So what we have told the United States is maybe we should tone down and not focus on these joint military exercises which was a fundamental core of our mutual defense agreement but get into EDCA where we would like to focus on exercises that are non traditional insofar as building our capacity against nontraditional security threats such as terrorism, even the fight against illegal drugs even disaster response,” Yasay added.
Yasay said the US “accepts and respects” the Philippine position.
But while pivoting away from the US, President Duterte is increasingly turning towards China and Russia.
Duterte has said if the two countries were to form a “new world order,” he would join.
Asked what the envisioned “new world order” would be like, Yasay said it would be a situation where big countries like Russia and China would respect and treat as equal small countries like the Philippines.
“I believe from the view point of our President the kind of changes he expects from China would be changes as regards treating a small country like the Philippines as a sovereign equal with mutual respect. China and Russia indicated they will precisely just be doing this,” Yasay said.