WASHINGTON – The Philippines is firmly committed to its alliance with the United States but will not be lectured on human rights and treated like a “little brown brother,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay said Thursday.
Speaking in Washington after recent remarks by the Philippines’ outspoken new President Rodrigo Duterte that have strained relations with the United States, Manila’s main ally, Yasay said some of Duterte’s remarks had been misunderstood.
He said Duterte had explained that his call for the withdrawal of US special forces from the southern Philippines was only a temporary measure to keep them out of harm’s way while Philippine forces undertook an offensive against Abu Sayyaf militants.
Yasay also said Duterte’s opposition to joint maritime patrols with the United States concerned the Philippines’ “exclusive economic zone,” not joint patrols within 12 nautical miles of its coast.
The latter patrols, aimed at preserving the territorial integrity of the Philippines, “must continue, because this is our commitment to the United States,” Yasay said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think-tank.
The Philippines and the United States share concerns about China’s pursuit of broad claims in the South China Sea, which overlap with those of Manila and other neighbors. (Reuters)