Duterte open to PH-China military drills in Mindanao


This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Duterte open to PH-China military drills in Mindanao
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expresses openness to joint exercises with China as he visits 3 Chinese warships docked in Davao City

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is open to joint military exercises with China in the seas around Mindanao.

“Yes, I said I agree, you can have a joint exercise here in Mindanao, maybe in the Sulu Sea,” the President said on Monday, May 1, after visiting 3 Chinese warships docked at Sasa Wharf in his hometown.

Duterte boarded the missile destroyer Chang Chun which arrived with two other vessels in Davao City on Sunday, April 30, for a 3-day goodwill visit.

“Very impressive. It’s clean and even the carpeting – it’s all carpeted. It’s like a hotel actually. Sabi ko nga (I said), ‘Is there any room here for guests?’ Sabi nila meron for guests (They said they have room for guests). Sabi ko (I said), ‘Can I use it? …I want to get married,'” he said in jest, speaking to reporters.

The visit came a day after Duterte issued a chairman’s statement on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that took a soft stance towards Chinese expansionism and island-building in the Sea.

In the statement, Duterte merely took note of “concerns expressed by some leaders over recent developments in the area.” He ignored last year’s international ruling outlawing China’s sweeping claims to the key waterway.

Duterte, elected last year, has changed foreign policy by playing down his country’s territorial dispute with China over large parts of the South China Sea in favor of seeking greater economic aid and investment.

ASEAN members the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei claim parts of the Sea, but China insists it has sovereign rights over nearly all of it.

Duterte has said the Philippines and other nations are helpless to stop the island-building, so there is no point challenging China in diplomatic and legal circles.

China is not a member of the 10-nation ASEAN, but its ambassador to Manila worked hard to influence the tenor and content of the chairman’s statement, diplomats earlier told Agence France-Presse. (READ: Duterte, China envoy discuss ‘proper handling’ of sea row)

The visit of the Chinese vessels to Davao City rather than Manila is widely seen as a personal gesture to the controversial Philippine leader.

It is the first Chinese Navy port call in the Philippines since 2010, the Philippine Navy said.

“Goodwill games” of basketball and tug-of-war are being staged between the Chinese sailors and their Filipino counterparts in Davao City, according to the Philippine Navy.

Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano, a former military officer who filed the first impeachment complaint against Duterte, said that in the ASEAN Summit, “they (China) won by convincing Duterte not to include any statement about the (international) ruling.”

“To make matters worse, Duterte even visited the Chinese warships. That only shows the President is trying everything to appease China,” the congressman told Agence France-Presse.

“It is not about an independent foreign policy. It is about selling out and capitulating to China.” (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Gary Alejano’s impeachment complaint vs Duterte– with reports from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!