Filipinos in the Navy support Duterte. His US policy? Not so much
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to remove foreign troops from his country has left many Filipino-American sailors torn between sympathy for the president’s domestic goals and opposition to weakening the security partnership with the U.S.
The Navy long represented a goal for Filipinos looking for a better life; between 1952 and 1990, about 34,260 Filipinos enlisted under a recruitment program that let them join without first immigrating.
Filipinos continue to seek enlistment, while many Filipino-Americans have made the Navy a generational tradition. They now fill ranks from seaman to vice admiral.
When the 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge arrived in Manila for a March port visit, roughly 15 percent of its crew had Filipino ancestry. Some sailors on 7th Fleet ships remain Filipino citizens.
Duterte’s insults directed at U.S. officials, along with his demands that the U.S. military abandon anti-terror efforts and halt plans to share space at Philippine military bases, have left many in a quandary.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Roland Donato, 25, is wary of Duterte’s lurch toward China.
Duterte announced his “separation” from the U.S. on Oct. 20 in Beijing, though he later said he would not seek to end the U.S.-Philippines security alliance, which was formalized 65 years ago.
Donato doubted that China would prove as valuable a friend as the U.S. when it comes to fighting terrorism, which remains a particular problem in the south.
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