Palace: Duterte affirms Philippines-US alliance remain strong
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has reaffirmed the Philippines’ decades-long alliance with the United States despite China’s growing influence in the country.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte made this assurance during his meeting with United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City on Thursday night.
Panelo said during the meeting, Duterte expressed his gratitude to the United States for the return of Balanginga bells.
“The President then reaffirmed the strength of Philippines-US alliance,” Panelo said in a statement.
Manila and Washington’s relations had been strained after Duterte threatened to sever ties with the US in 2016, accusing its longtime ally of hypocrisy and bullying over its criticisms on his war on drugs and brutal anti-criminality drive.
But on Thursday night, Panelo said Duterte reaffirmed the country’s alliance with the US.
“The President highlighted prospects of stronger and more meaningful ties with the United States, particularly on defense and security, peace and order, regional stability, as well as the rule of law in the conduct of activities in the West Philippine Sea to prevent escalation of tensions among countries involved,” he said.
The President, he said, also “discussed ways to strengthen further cooperation between the two countries in countering terrorism and violent extremism.”
Panelo said Pompeo “expressed confidence in the strength of Philippines-US alliance.”
“He also reaffirmed their country’s commitment to strengthen cooperation and deepen engagement with the Philippines on matters of mutual interest and common concern at the regional and global arena, including the rule of law and need for a rules-based regime in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.
“The US Secretary of State also assured the Philippines of the nation’s support,” he added.
In a press briefing on Friday morning, Pompeo assured Washington’s commitment to helping the Philippines in cases of attack in the West Philippine Sea. /ee
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