The Phililippines plans to halt 28 military exercises that are carried out with US forces each year in addition to stopping joint naval patrols in the South China Sea.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told local media Friday that he told the U.S. military that plans for joint patrols and naval exercises in the disputed South China Sea have been put on hold.
This follows a bitterness between the two countries after Rodrigo Duterte was elected to office earlier this year as the new president.
Lorenzana also said that 107 U.S. troops involved in operating surveillance drones against Muslim militants would be asked to leave the southern part of the country once the Philippines acquires those intelligence-gathering capabilities in the near future.
President Duterte has said he wants an ongoing U.S.-Philippine combat exercise to be the last during his six-year presidency as he backs away from what he views as too much dependence on the U.S.
While reducing engagement with the US, Duterte has tried to build bridges with China and Russia. Lorenzana said he has been ordered by Duterte to travel to Beijing and Moscow to discuss defence procurement from the two countries which are opposed to US security policy.
However, some observers are feel Deterte’s anti-US outbursts are intended to send a message to Washington which has been critical of the Philippines’ war on drugs in which some 3600 people have died in recent months.