• Melo Acuna

"President Duterte free to decide as he chooses," says US diplomat

United States maintains presence on Asia to thwart military adventurism

MANILA – American Asst. Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs David R. Stilwell said his country has kept its presence in the region and demonstrated their resolve to prevent what he referred to as “unwelcome and certainly unhelpful military adventurism.”

Speaking at a teleconference this morning, Mr. Stilwell said he knows Taiwan and ASEAN countries are very concerned about militarization of various economic zones.

“The U. S. has been very vocal. As I am sure you have seen, the Secretary (Michael R. Pompeo) has been very vocal in identifying this as a significant U. S. interest and concern,” Mr. Stilwell said. He added both in physical presence from the military and the diplomatic real, through economic support “demonstrating U.S. resolve.” He added all the issues can be resolved through dialogue and in “a peaceful manner.”

Asked about “mixed signals” from the Duterte Administration on its relations with the People’s Republic of China and the United States, Asst. Secretary Stilwell said the United States and the Philippines are allies.

“We’ve been allies for a very long time. We’ve had long-term cooperation both security and diplomatic, and economic interactions,” he explained. He added the decisions, the sovereign decisions by the Philippine government is for its leaders to make and that the United States will not be involved.

He explained the past government’s decision to bring the case to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, “a complaint about PRC aggressive activity in the South China Sea, I think we understand where Philippines actions have been consistent on this.”

Asst. Secretary Stilwell said President Duterte is free to decide as he chooses.

“And we just ask that those choices are made in ways that support Philippine sovereignty,” Mr. Stillwell concluded. (Melo M. Acuña)

Asst. Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs David R. Stilwell. (US Embassy Photo)

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