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Philippine leader rejects joint patrols, eyes China weapons

MANILA — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday he won’t allow government forces to conduct joint patrols of disputed waters near the South China Sea with foreign powers, apparently scrapping a deal his predecessor reached with the US military earlier this year.

Duterte also said he was considering acquiring defense equipment from Russia and China. The Philippines has traditionally leaned on the United States, its longtime treaty ally, and other Western allies for its security needs.

The remarks were the latest from a president who has had an uneasy relationship with the United States, but also has tried to mend relations with China strained over South China Sea disputes.


Duterte said he wanted only Philippine territorial waters, up to 12 nautical miles offshore, to be patrolled by Filipino forces, but not other offshore areas that are contested. He added he opposes Filipino forces accompanying the US and China in joint patrols that could entangle the Philippines in hostilities.

‘‘We do not go into a patrol or join any other army from now because I do not want trouble,’’ Duterte said. ‘‘I do not want to ride gung-ho style there with China or with America. I just want to patrol our territorial waters.’’

Associated Press