U.S.-Philippines ties are going through “bumps on the road” and the Philippine military could manage if treaty ally the United States were to withdraw aid, the defense minister said on Friday.
The Philippines intended to buy arms from China and Russia and there had been no adverse reaction from within the military to President Rodrigo Duterte’s vows to scale back defense ties with the United States, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana’s remarks suggested he was following other top officials in Duterte’s administration in rallying behind the maverick president’s tough anti-U.S. agenda after weeks of scrambling to manage the fallout from his outbursts and threats to downgrade the alliance.
Lorenzana had on Wednesday set a conciliatory tone, saying Duterte may have been misinformed when he said U.S.-Philippine military exercises were no benefit to his country.
But on Friday Lorenzana said the value of U.S. military aid to the Philippines was “not that much”, and the military could ask Congress to make up for a shortfall of some $50 million-$100 million a year in U.S. military aid.
“We can live without (that),” Lorenzana told a foreign correspondents’ forum.
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