Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday said that the Philippines would not join navies of other countries, like the United States, in maritime drills in the South China Sea for fear of raising tension in the area.
The defense chief said, “President Rodrigo Duterte has a standing order to us, to me, that we should not involve ourselves in naval exercises in the South China Sea, except our national waters, the 12-mile distance from our shores.”
The U.S. military has been making increasing excursions into the South China Sea with warplanes and warships. Last month, the U.S., Australia and Japan conducted joint drills in the region.
In his annual State of the Nation Address on July 27, Duterte said the Philippines would continue upholding an independent foreign policy, would not pick sides between China and the U.S., would not agree to allow U.S. troops back to military bases in the country, and would not confront China over the South China Sea.