US Defense Secretary Ash Carter assured on Thursday that the US-Philippines relationship remains stable following the election of 16 President Rodrigo Duterte.
Carter, during an in-flight interview on Thursday, said that the American alliance with the Philippines remains “ironclad” even after the incoming president said he is considering charting a course for the country that is more independent of the United States.
Before the elections took place, in April to be exact, Carter visited Manila and announced new measures to further strengthen the US-Philippines defense relations.
Carter said the US has no plans to change course.
“With respect to our relationship with the Philippines, that is an alliance relationship. We take that very seriously,” Carter said. “It is, as we say, ironclad. It is with a democracy, and so they have a new government. We look forward to working with them.”
As a review, a Visiting Forces Agreement executed in 1999 gives permission to the American forces to come back to the Philippines for large-scale combat exercises. This is in light of the near-decade closure of sprawling US military bases in the country.
Then, after 15 years, another pact was signed. In 2014, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement was taken into effect, granting American forces, warships and fighter jets access to five Philippine military camps, where they can erect buildings and other military facilities.
These bindings have helped the USA reassess its presence in Asia.
The newly elected president has said that he has reservations with regard to the periodic presence of US troops in the country. However, despite this reservations, the president is still planning to send an envoy to the US Embassy and other diplomatic missions to extend a hand of friendship.
Carter is in Singapore as of present time for the annual international security conference known as the Shangri-la Dialogue. He is expected to stay there until Sunday.