Philippine defense dep’t to consider timing of exercises with US
MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday said he would consult with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on the timing of joint drills with the US after China expressed concerns on a possible “show of force” of the US in the South China Sea when Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Manila in November.
“We’ll have a dialogue with the DFA what is the best thing to do during the state visit of President Xi,” Lorenzana told reporters.
A report from CNN International said that the US was proposing a massive show of force as a warning to China sometime in November.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua had expressed concern that the Philippines would join the US-led operation, which may coincide with Xi’s official visit in the third week of November.
Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte assured the Chinese ambassador that the Philippines would not join such exercises.
“We don’t want anything to mar the visit of President Xi so I think that the DFA will do all that it can to make sure that President Xi’s visit will be fruitful and as productive as we would want it to be,” Roque said.
Navy spokesperson Commander Jonathan Zata said the Philippine Navy had no scheduled exercises with its US counterparts in November. There are no cancelled joint drills either.