Why Duterte nixed Philippines participation in USA anti-China war exercises

Philippines President Duterte every now and again comes through with intellectual gems that for the average Filipino, fly way over their heads. But this time political science and security experts are nodding their heads no matter what the uninformed population thinks.

Philippines President Duterte recently canvassed his advisors and has concomitantly announced he will not allow America to operate from the Philippines archipelago, weapons systems and snooping devices aimed at China.

Additionally, the Philippines boss says that his Navy will not participate with anti-China American naval exercises or practice invasions of islands.

This article intends to share the ignored Philippines side of the story.

by Micheal John

America’s influence in  South Asia is its huge military presence and the accompanying lucrative cash business of the arms industry. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has benefitted often from that cash. There has not been the lucrative deals that South Korea and Japan enjoy, but staccato action has left more than a few Filipinos in the green.

In that context the bias of the AFP should have no say in the matter. The Philippines is a democracy and not a military junta despite alleged appearances. The President and the elected representatives set public policy. The military should not call the shots in a democracy. Apparently it does on many matters, but that obviously in this matter is a desperately dangerous arrangement influenced by a foreign government, the United States.

The AFP claims that Duterte’s denial of the AFP participation in exercises against China is costing its sailors training opportunities to provide readiness to join the fight in a  war against China. There is a grave danger in the many presumptions implied in that  claim.

The AFP is not equipped to fight a war with China and is not relevant to the war materiels standards of the USA hence does not need interoperability/commonality integration. It has nothing to integrate with the exceptions of a few radios and the need to talk to the Air Boss to keep their 60s-vintage airplanes from flying into each other.

The AFP Generals assume the Philippines would join the USA to attack its neighbour China, which frankly is outrageous as are most AFP Generals and Admirals whose cognitions are based on Hollywood war drama movies.

The AFP is not as cognisant as it should be of the difficulties in sharing sovereign territories in the same waterways as evidenced by AFP officials making utterly stupid, antagonistic statements like—‘We need to exercise with the United States in case we must go to war with China’—which is the essence of the gobsmacker that has been pronounced publicly.

It could make one want to write and even say, “loose lips sink ships,” for these blighters sunk their policy-influence “ship” and scuttled diplomacy to Davy Jones Locker.

The jingoistic nonsense was likely not influential and President Duterte has called the shots, as it should be. No practice attacks on China allowed.

The AFP will not likely be joining anyone to go to war against Philippines’ neighbour China.

SOUTH CHINA SEA 07.02.2020 Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Brenton Poyser Command Destroyer Squadron 7 Subscribe5 200702-N-WP865-1197 SOUTH CHINA SEA (July 2, 2020) Sailors assigned to the Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) stand watch on the bridge, July 2, 2020. Gabrielle Giffords, part of Destroyer Squadron Seven, is on a rotational deployment, operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response force. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brenton Poyser) Philippines will not join US Exercises in South China Sea against China
Photo: 07.02.2020
Photo by US Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Brenton Poyser Command Destroyer Squadron 7
SOUTH CHINA SEA (July 2, 2020) Sailors assigned to the Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) stand watch on the bridge, July 2, 2020. Gabrielle Giffords, part of Destroyer Squadron Seven, is on a rotational deployment, operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response force.

Philippines caught between China and America but China is a neighbour and almost family. 

China seeks traditional relationship building while America seeks quasi-domination of the Philippines.

America wants to use the Philippines as an expendable geographic front in a war with China meanwhile China seeks to protect its sovereignty from a growing infringement by America which while the USA is 10,000 kilometres away, it intrudes in China’s neighbourhood and militarily controls South Asia.

Three things need to be considered:

1) Filipinos for generations have suffered PTSD and Stockholm Syndrome following America’s brutal colonization of the Philippines Archipelago which was nothing short of a genocide of what Americans called “monkeys”; then there was Japan’s brutal occupation of the country in WWII. Before that was the Spanish colonization of the country. It’s been a never ending servitude.



2) Filipinos love Hollywood, American beauty contests and K-Pop. The first two have created the current decision-making generation’s impression of the United States, but nothing could be further from reality. And who doesn’t love K-Pop. China has its own variety of singing girlie-dancers and boy-bands and that genre is also popular.

Watch. “Filipinos love Americans… I am a superstar here.” American missionaries view of Filipinos: “The people there are very friendly. It amazed me how humble they were.”


3) China is not a bully toward the Philippines but a friend. The jabberwocky about the South China Sea and ‘China-is-a-bully’ overture is purely about the gross misunderstanding of China’s reaction to the American military presence on its South Asia borders.

Within meters of China’s borders, America has enough naval vessels, armed personnel, and nuclear tipped missiles in the region to destroy the entire world. China felt it had to respond or lose its security relevance to its own territories.

Hence China sees even the tiniest infringement as a huge attack against its frigid paradigm in which it is truly surrounded by American military might. China has a long memory of history and the current situation is a sovereignty disaster for China with comparison to historic events its leaders and philosophers do not like to remember.

A rational China had to do something. In so doing it annoyed some neighbours with logic that foists China’s own paradigm on others while Beijing is expecting neighbours to understand without explanation this absurd Nine-Dash-Line.

That Nine-Dash-Line is understandably, nothing but antagonistic to the neighbours. It’s also an illogical reaction to the American military presence that has taken over Asia. ‘Illogical’ may be a reasonable adjective for many historical lines in the sand but this one makes sense.

The Nine-Dash-Line is random and a whole other article to explain. Nine-Dash can be explained. Its reason for existing is not belittled for being arbitrary if seen as a defensive and sensible line in the sand. China had to do something.

4. The July 2016 non-binding arbitration of the World Tribunal did not deny ownership of islands, it denied ownership of the oceans to China.  Read: Tribunal Release-on-South-China-Sea-Decision

Duterte’s delegation meets with Xi Jinping delegation. Official Philippines Presidential Photograph.

Who is a Philippines neighbour, America or China?

How close is the Philippines to China?  Less than 200 nautical miles. In fact China owns sovereign territory inside The Republic of the Philippines Extended Economic Zone. This is not unlike Canada where France sovereignly owns islands in the Gulf of the Saint Lawrence, well inside Canada’s borders.

Neighbours need to get along.

That the Philippines has a special military relationship with the United States is bizarre. That country slaughtered over 200,000 Filipinos in the late 1800s when it first conquered and colonized the archipelago. Read if you wish: The Filipino Genocide

“The period of American colonization of the Philippines lasted 48 years, from cession of the Philippines to the U.S. by Spain in 1898 to U.S. recognition of Philippine independence in 1946. After independence in 1946, many Americans chose to remain in the Philippines while maintaining relations with relatives in the US.”—Wikipedia

“One thing became apparent over 100 years. Americans see Filipinos as marginalized humans that have no rights and little status compared to domestic animals,” says Bert, a retired German Doctor who immigrated to the Philippines Mountain Province over 40 years ago to be with his betrothed.

“I have said this over and over again to anyone who asked about my work with pregnant tweens,” says Karinna Angeles, a Philippines nurse who is back home from various postings abroad. What I know about Americans from my experience and my mother, also a nurse, is that Americans are infamous for leaving behind pregnant kids and also their penchant for child sex slavery.”

Understanding American Military priorities. Philippines President Duterte bans US activities within Sovereign Philippines that involve attacking China or practicing Island Invasions, Photo Courtesy US Navy.

“These American soldiers and sailors also leave venereal diseases they have picked up in other countries and shared with kids in the Philippines who may or may not be copulating with other servicemen and spreading the disease. How twelve-year-old kids have HIV/HBV otherwise, and be pregnant on top of all that?”, she adds in exasperation. “We have an awful time dealing with pernicious STD’s from other countries when they do not respond to the typical pharmacological solutions we have here.”

Doctor Bert describes a scene in the late 1980s that sounds like the Philippines gave America the boot from dozens of military bases in the Philippines. “I wish Manila had not returned to this format of having Americans come and go as they please to half a dozen of our military bases we [The Philippines] gave over to them. They are just sharing more COVID-19 and causing the same old troubles while they try to create a front against China. The Philippines is now a spy center and missile launch pad against China,” he laments.

“Chinese who came here are no better but that’s the riff raff that comes first when the doors open. The first bunch are gamblers. The regular tourists and the students around here are very nice and polite and they contribute to society,” continues the elderly Doc.

These Anecdotes come from highly educated civilians in different locations and walks of life.

The average person thinks a little differently.

The underlying theme is somewhat like what this lady has to say.

“We of the Philippines must get along with other Asians, because we are all together against the West which treats us like dirt by dumping garbage here and exploiting us to do their cheap labor and also their dirty work,” notes Leanne, a single mom with one child who works as a Barista at a Camp John Hay Starbucks in the Cordillera Mountains.

“But Filipinos are credulous when it comes to Hollywood. People think of Americans as big heroes like IronMan and Captain America but when you meet them all they want to do is “f” and move on. That’s why I am alone with a baby.”

History has hundreds of thousands of warnings

Filipinos would not like the truth about how America, a very racist nation,  historically views the Asian nation of the Republic of the Philippines.

From: The Filipino Genocide

“The veterans of the various battles against Native-Americans in the nineteenth century treated the Filipinos as savages, similarly to the “Indians” they had previously fought, and as members of a distinct outgroup. Labelling showcased the simplest form of racism against the Filipinos. “Niggers” and other racial slurs were used to equate them to the slaves of the American past. It became common to refer to Filipinos as “niggers” or “monkey men”. At the outset of the conflict between the United States and the Philippines, an American soldier, Willy Grayson of the Nebraska Volunteers, refers to Filipinos as “niggers” as he shot at a Filipino man.

“Furthering the notion of their inferiority, Filipinos were constantly referred to as “monkeys” or “gugus”.

“The first derogatory term dehumanizes Filipinos by comparing them to animals and implies they possess less than human qualities while “gugus” is a reference to the Tagalog word “gago,” meaning fool, hijacking one of the major Filipino languages and turning it against its own people. On the mainland, feelings of superiority towards Filipinos remained similar, depicted in political cartoons, such as “The Little Filipino and The Chick,” where a bird outsmarts a small, negro-skinned Filipino child.

“The political cartoon highlights how whites in mainstream American society, not just those residing on the archipelago, truly believed in the lesser mental capacity of the Filipino people. Furthermore, images of Filipinos as animals, or displaying animalistic qualities were common in popular magazines in the United States like: Harper’s Weekly or Judge. Images of Filipinos as dogs, mosquitos, or trained monkeys underscore the qualities associated with Filipinos: trophies, an annoyance, or as pets.

“These qualities only begin to express how Filipinos were seen by Americans, that is distinctly different from and inferior to anyone in the United States. The effects of American opinions of Filipinos were not limited to caricatures in cartoons, but also had serious implications for the real world. Being depicted as animals, children, or even devils, was unfortunately reflected in American action against Filipinos. In the poem “The White Man’s Burden: The United States and the Philippines” written in 1899, Filipinos are referred to as “captives” and described with statements including things like “new-caught…half devil and half child”.

“The reference to being “half devil” led many, especially the white men, to feel threatened or endangered when facing Filipinos. This belief was used to justify the use of force and hostile actions towards the island population. This hostility existed simultaneously and paradoxically with the concept of the “half child” and the jejune blank slate which could be molded into something new. As a result, education was considered a way to civilize Filipinos and make them more like Americans. After the war, this idea became reality. Scads of white teachers, particularly women, would come to the Philippines to educate the next generation of Filipinos.

“Either by eliminating the Filipino “half devil” or educating the “half child,” the United States had discovered a method of cleansing the savagery of the Filipino peoples: through violence or an American education. The magazine, Puck, clearly illustrates this concept in a cartoon named “It’s ‘up to’ Them,” in which Uncle Sam holds out his hands, giving the native Filipinos a choice.

“In one hand is a white, female school teacher and in the other an American soldier brandishing a rifle. This image exhibits the options for civilizing the Filipino tribes, through educating the child inside in an American education system or by killing off the inner devil of the Filipinos. The ideas about racial differences were ideally suited for the goal of annexing the Philippines: the United States needed to either bring the Filipinos into the fold or remove them from the islands. Needless to say, Filipinos had no desire to be annexed and resistance to these aggressions soon manifested. Emilio Aguinaldo, the President of the makeshift revolutionary Filipino government, led the battle against the United States Army. The outgunned and undermanned Filipino army unsurprisingly lost battles of conventional warfare to the experienced American military. As a result, in November of 1899, Aguinaldo dissolved the army into various guerilla bands.

“The purpose of this strategy was to wear down the will of the enemy, use the superior knowledge of the environment, and the goodwill of the common folk to instigate an early exit by the Americans. This strategy, while probably the only means of fighting the superior American forces, also resulted in various atrocities.”


  •  Richard E. Welch, Jr., Response to Imperialism: The United States and the Philippine/American War, 1899-1902 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979), 101.
  •  Luis H. Francia, A History of the Philippines: From Indios Bravos to Filipinos (New York: The Overlook Press, 2014), 144.
  •  Ignacio, et. al., The Forbidden Book, 81.
  •  Anderson, “The Little Filipino and the Chick,” The World (New York: 1903), found in Ignacio, et al., The Forbidden Book, 88.
  • Ignacio, et. al., The Forbidden Book, 89, 92, 93.
  •  Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden: The United States & The Philippine Islands, 1899.” Rudyard Kipling’s Verse: Definitive Edition (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1929). 10 February 1899 edition of the New York Sun.


Philippines will not join US Exercises in South China Sea against China
Photo: 07.02.2020
SOUTH CHINA SEA (July 2, 2020) The Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) conducts routine operations in the South China Sea, July 2, 2020. Gabrielle Giffords, part of Destroyer Squadron Seven, is on a rotational deployment, operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response force. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brenton Poyser)