South China Morning Post interviews Dr. Robin Michael Garcia on Duterte’s order to halt naval exercises with the US

In a South China Morning Post article posted on August 4, 2020, Alan Robles and Raissa Robles examined the standing order of Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte to cease all its naval exercises with US in the South China Sea. Defense Secretary Lorenza said that this move aims to minimize tensions in the area amid territorial disputes, particularly between the US and China.

With worsening ties between Beijing and Washington, Philippine officials have described their position as a balancing act between the two superpowers. But for a retired navy officer, Senator Antonio Trillanes says that “the directive is a clear manifestation of Philippine support of China’s foreign policy in the West Philippine Sea.”

According to Dr. Garcia, “Lorenzana and Duterte are afraid of communicating to China that we are on the side of the US.” He added that “the Duterte administration thinks China is an offensive state but it’s not. This is where the fear is coming from.”

Dr. Garcia also emphasized the significance of safeguarding our interests in ocean affairs even beyond the 12 nautical miles, saying that “freedom of navigation is also in the interest of the Philippines. The country has an interest in making sure there is freedom of navigation in trade and other areas.” This statement was a response following the assumption that it is already in the interest of US if naval exercises take place beyond 12 nautical miles.

Click HERE to read the full article entitled “South China Sea: why did Duterte bar Philippine military from US exercises?