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US territory or China province? Palace says Duterte just teasing Philippines

President Rodrigo Duterte was just teasing the public when he made a declaration that the Philippines should just turn into a territory of either the United States or China if it fails to defend itself, Malacañang said Thursday.

Duterte on Wednesday said it was important to live up to the country’s status as an independent republic as he stood by his decision to abrogate the country’s Visiting Forces Agreement with the US.

“Ano lang niya iyon, sinasabi niya, kung hindi natin kayang maging gobyerno, di magpa-colonized na lang tayo. Iyon ang ibig niyang sabihin,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters.

“Kumbaga kantiyaw iyon sa sarili nating bansa. Kung hindi natin kaya eh, huwag na tayong magkaroon ng gobyerno.”

Since he assumed the presidency in June 2016, Duterte has made friendly overtures to China which led to marked improvement in Manila’s economic and diplomatic relations with Beijing despite the South China Sea dispute.

The Philippines’ relations with the US, however,  apparently turned sour under Duterte due to Washington’s criticism of his deadly war on drugs and the imprisonment of his staunch critic Senator Leila De Lima. —NB, GMA News