Just hours after Rodrigo Duterte softened his claims about "separating" from the US, the mercurial president once again hit out at the long-term ally of the Philippines. Speaking to the press on 25 October, prior to his Japan visit, he said that Washington should forget about any military deals as long as he continued to stay in power.
The president said that America could "forget" an Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the Philippines "if I stay longer", though he did not make it clear what he meant by this. Duterte went on to warn that the US should not treat the Philippines "like a dog with a leash".
"I look forward to the time when I no longer see any military troops or soldier in my country except the Filipino soldiers," he added, according to Reuters.
Duterte has made no secret of his plans to distance the Philippines from the US and instead create stronger relations with China and Russia. However, these latest comments come on the heels of a statement the president made in Manila, clarifying that the "the alliances" with America "are alive."
"There should be no worry about changes of alliances. I do not need to have alliances with other nations," he said on 24 October.
Responding to the "separation" plans, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to his counterpart in the Philippines, following which the US State Department said it was confident that the two countries will be able to "work through" the period of confusion caused by Duterte's remarks.
"The tone and tenor of the discussions that they had ... and the assurances that the Philippine side gave to their commitment to keeping the relationship going was enough to lead the secretary and the assistant secretary to believe that we were going to be able to work through this," State Department spokesman John Kirby said.