Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to end the country’s 65-year military partnership with the United States, saying Washington should not treat his country like a “doormat”. Duterte has also ordered that 28 annual military exercises conducted annually with US be halted.

“For as long as I am there, do not treat us like a doormat because you’ll be sorry for it.
I can always go to China,” he said in a speech on Friday in Davao City.

Ties between the two countries have been under great strain recently and Duterte’s latest comments will likely exacerbate the tension.

Philippines Defence secretary Delfin Lorenza said once the country builds enough capacity for intelligence-gathering, 107 soldiers deployed to operate surveillance drones against Islamic militants will be sent back as the country tries to end Duterte’s perceived dependence on its former coloniser.

“We have been allies since 1951. All we got are hand-me-downs, no new equipment. The Americans failed to beef up our capabilities to be at par with what is happening in the region.”

Crackdown on drug dealers
Duterte’s crackdown on the country’s drug lords, which has resulted in 3 600 deaths in just three months, is a major cause of the tension between the US and the Philippines. 

Duterte told President Barack Obama in a speech earlier this year “you can go to hell” in response to the US leader’s criticism of his deadly anti-drug campaign, suggesting that he may eventually decide to “break up with America”.

In the speech before a local convention attended by officials and business executives, Duterte outlined his disappointments with the US, which has asked his government to stop the widespread killings and has questioned whether human rights are being violated.

Duterte reiterated that he would reach out to Russia and China for technological and military co-operation as the US was an unreliable partner in this regard. Duterte is scheduled to visit China on October 20-21.

“China has repeatedly invited me. I have accepted the offer,” he said about the scheduled visit.