World Bulletin / News Desk
A Philippine minister announced Wednesday that President Rodrigo Duterte has approved joint military exercises with the United States focusing on humanitarian and disaster response, but ordered a halt to assault drills.
In recent months, Duterte has reiterated that he does not want foreign troops in his country and indicated intentions to do away with long-existing deals with the U.S. -- the Philippines’ long-time ally.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement Wednesday that Duterte recommended placing “more weight on civic action and engineering projects to benefit a number of civilian communities and the strengthening of the Self-Reliant Defense Program”.
GMA News quoted Lorenzana as saying that the approved drills would focus on bilateral humanitarian and disaster response, counter-terrorism exercises and non-traditional security concerns including counter-narcotics and transnational crimes.
He added that Duterte had also given “a go-signal” for the implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) -- which allows American military forces to operate from five bases in the Philippines.
Last month, Duterte had told the U.S. to “forget” the deal saying, “I do not want to see any military man [here] of any other nation except for the Philippines.”
The EDCA, which was signed under Duterte’s predecessor in 2014 and ratified by Philippines congress in July, gives U.S. troops and equipment wide access to Philippine military bases on a rotational basis.
Duterte has reiterated his pursuit of an “independent” foreign policy and expressed willingness to forge links with Beijing and Moscow.
According to GMA, his recommendations regarding the drills are due to be presented to the U.S. panel of the Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board in a meeting scheduled for later this month.Last Mod: 09 Kasım 2016, 16:04