METRO MANILA – In an effort meant to not further escalate the tension, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the military not participate in the South China Sea drills being conducted by several nations.
According to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Duterte gave a standing order that Philippine navy should not get involved in the South China Sea exercises except the 12 mile distance on our national waters.
Lorenzana said that the decision was inline with the President’s goal of pursuing independent foreign policy when he assumed the presidency.
The United States Navy conducted drills in the South China Sea last July when they dispatched two aircraft carrier in the area, a move that China claimed to be provocative. China has been claiming almost the entire global waterway in the South China Sea.
U.S said that the drills is to show that the area is in international waters and it should conduct freedom of navigation operations.
Last July, Duterte said on his annual State of the Nation Address that the Philippines will continue to pursue independent foreign policy and would be neutral to both USA and China. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin appreciates the Philippine government’s gesture and remarks and welcome friendly consultations to resolve maritime disputes to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea and the entire Asean region.