US-Philippines ties are going through “bumps on the road” and the Philippine military could manage if Washington was to withdraw aid, the Philippines defence 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 defence ties with the US, defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.
His remarks suggested he was following other top officials in Duterte’s administration in rallying behind the maverick president’s tough anti-US agenda after weeks of scrambling to manage the fallout from his outbursts and threats to downgrade the alliance.
Lorenzana had set a conciliatory tone on Wednesday, saying Duterte might have been misinformed when he said US-Philippine military exercises were no benefit to his country.
But on Friday he said the value of US military aid to the Philippines was “not that much”, and the military could ask Congress to make up for a shortfall of about $50 million-$100 million a year in US military aid.
“We can live without [that],” Lorenzana said.