Thursday, December 8, 2016

Philippines Says It Won't Help US Patrols in South China Sea |

Philippines Says It Won't Help US Patrols in South China Sea |

The Philippine defense secretary said Thursday it's highly unlikely his country will allow the U.S. military to use it as a springboard for freedom of navigation patrols in the disputed South China Sea to avoid antagonizing China.

Delfin Lorenzana said U.S. ships and aircraft could use bases in Guam; Okinawa, Japan; or fly from aircraft carriers to patrol the disputed waters.

Under President Rodrigo Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, some U.S. aircraft and ships stopped in the Philippines on the way to patrolling the disputed waters to challenge China's territorial claims.

Duterte, who took office in June, has taken steps to mend ties with China and became hostile toward the Obama administration, after it raised concerns over Duterte's deadly crackdown on illegal drugs.

Asked if the Philippines will continue to host U.S. ships and aircraft patrolling the disputed waters, Lorenzana said that Duterte will not likely allow that to happen "to avoid any provocative actions that can escalate tensions in the South China Sea. It's unlikely."