New Low For US-Philippines Relations; President Duterte Mocks US’ F-16 Offer

In another blow to the US-Philippines relations, President Duterte ridiculed and turned down an offer made by the US defence ministry and Pentagon officials to buy F-16 fighter jets. President Duterte stated that any such procurements would be utterly useless to help the cause of the Philippines in any manner.

This is yet another setback to the US’ influence over the Asia-Pacific doctrine of which the Philippines has been a strong facet. Rodrigo Duterte stated that the Philippines requires lighter aircraft to fight insurgents which aim to attack the Philippines.

The offer was made in a letter written to President Duterte by US defence secretary James Mattis, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo and the Commerce Secretary of the US, Wilbur Ross. Duterte scoffed the offer which came after the US slammed his actions in light of the massive drug crackdown policies of the Philippines.

The US-Philippines relations have been simmering constantly and Manila has started leaning towards Russia for procuring military equipment. In a television address, he read out the offer made by the US officials through a letter written to him.

Last week a US official who visited the Philippines warned Duterte for his plans to buy Russian weapons. Manila could soon sign a deal to buy arms and submarines from Moscow as per the local media. This will surely leave Washington irked as the Philippines is seen as a staunch US ally. But Manila’s allegiance towards Washington is degrading at a fast pace and Russia is surely aware of the opportunity Manila’s changing international relations have to offer.

Rodrigo Duterte also stated that he would not visit the US for any dialogue. In the letter, the US had proposed an escalation in the special relationship through dialogue and discussion. Duterte has vowed to cease buying used military equipment from the US to fight enemies of the state including the Maoists and the Muslim rebels. Under President Duterte, the Philippines has fostered close defence cooperations and bilateral ties with both China and Russia against the liking of the US.

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