The Philippines foreign affairs secretary is clarifying his country's relationship with the United States, two days after President Rodrigo Duterte announced his "separation" from Washington during a visit to Beijing.
While calling the United States the "closest friend" of the Philippines, foreign affairs secretary Perfecto Yasay said that the country must separate from its "former colonial master" in order to advance its growth and international relations.
Since he was elected in May, President Duterte has carried through on pledges for a nationwide crackdown on drugs, earning criticism from human rights groups and nations including the United States. In response, he has ended joint military drills with U.S. forces and embraced closer relations with Beijing.
During his a speech before Chinese business leaders this past week, Duterte said, "America has lost now. I've realigned myself in your ideological flow."
He later said that he did not mean Manila would cut diplomatic ties with the United States, which Yasay echoed in a Facebook post Saturday.
"Indeed, breaking away from our closest friend, only military ally and strategic partner would not be in our best national interest," Yasay.
"And yet, separation from our former colonial master is demanded in pursuing our independent foreign policy. It implies breaking away from the debilitating mindset of dependency and subservience - economically and militarily - that have perpetuated our "little brown brother" image to America, which has stunted our growth and advancement."
The post, titled "letting go as interdependent brothers," went on to explain Duterte's "new course" of trade and economic relations with other Asian countries - particularly China.