Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte stands with US Defence Secretary James Mattis. Photo: Reuters / Dondi Tawatao

US Defense Secretary James Mattis’ arrival in the Philippines on Monday could have been an opportunity to showcase America’s importance in the region. But, as NPR writes, the Philippines had somthing else in mind.

Shortly after Mattis’ arrival, In an announcement hailing the end to Manila’s campaign against the ISIS-inspired insurgency in Marawi, Philippine Defense Minister Delfin Negrillo Lorenza decided not to mention Washington’s support for the campaign. Manila’s praise was reserved for Russia and China, both of which provided arms that the Obama administration had withheld due to concerns about Duterte’s drug war.

While the weapons from Beijing and Moscow are insignificant in comparison to the military ties between Washington and Manila, for Duterte it is a way to remind the US that it cannot take its close ties with the Philippines for granted.

In related news, the Washington Post reported that President Trump will not attend the East Asia Summit held in the Philippines on November 14, though Trump will be in the country on the 12th and 13th.

The Philstar confirmed that a bilateral meeting between Trump and Duterte is being arranged for while Trump is there.

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