PHILIPPINES GOVERNMENT DUTERTE.jpg
Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte (C) signs a guestbook during his visit at the Philippine Marines headquarters in Taguig city, south of Manila, Philippines, 27 September 2016. The president of the Philippines will pursue closer relations with China and Russia amid deteriorating ties with its historical ally, the United States, local media reported. Rodrigo Duterte announced his intention to soon visit China, with whom the Philippines is engaged in a conflict over the sovereignty of several islets in the South China Sea, to boost trade ties.
Photograph: EPA/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

The Philippines has told the US that joint patrols in the South China Sea are suspended and says it can "live without" the country's financial aid, the Philippine defence chief said Friday.

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the US and Philippines have so far conducted two naval exercises in the disputed seas, but there will be no more planned.

"When (President Rodrigo Duterte) said there will be no more patrols, we already informed our counterparts that there are no more patrols in the meantime," he told reporters in Manila.

"We suspended it first," he added. "They know it already."

Lorenzana also said his military can "live without" financial aid from the US and would instead approach lawmakers to ask for a bigger budget to fill in the shortfall.

"Our Congress is giving us money now. I believe they will be giving us more if we have no source of funds," he said.

Lorenzana said there was truth to the assessment by the country's foreign secretary that the US had "failed us" especially in efforts to boost the military’s capabilities.

"We have been allies since 1951, all we got from that time until (1992) are all hand me downs, no new equipment," he said. "The Americans failed to beef up our capabilities to be at par with what is happening in the region."

Philippine President Duterte has recently warned he might "break up" with the US as he seeks to realign the country's foreign policy and end the Philippines' dependence on America.

He has also said he wants over 100 US troops deployed in the southern region of Mindanao to leave, and that he would scrap the countries' 28 annual joint military exercises.

On Thursday, Duterte said the Philippines would not beg for assistance from countries that have criticized his administration’s war against illegal drugs, in which at least 1,523 people have been killed in police operations since July 1.

"I do not expect human rights (groups), I do not expect (US President Barack) Obama, I do not expect the EU to understand me," he said. "If you think it's high time for you to withdraw assistance, go ahead. We will not beg for it."

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