Phillipines President Rodrigo Duterte
Phillipines President Rodrigo Duterte Reuters

Rodrigo Duterte, sometimes referred to as the Filipino "Trump" for his fiery rhetoric (including publicly insulting President Obama), has made another step towards an independent foreign policy: the expulsion of some 50 US Special Forces advisers from the southern Philippines.

The order was issued without prior warning through official channels; and apparently, the US government found out about the decision only after the fact. US government sources have claimed that the alliance with the Philippines (who were under US occupation for more than 60 years) is still strong.

Duterte has shown a history of "radical" moves, and after he assumed office in June, authorized a "shoot on sight" approach to the war on drugs, which has claimed the lives of some 3,000 individuals to date.

Despite His recent disagreements in the South China Sea (and sometimes flamboyant posturing), China and the Philippines have been cultivating a much closer relationship under Mr. Duterte's leadership. While he has asked Philippine fishermen to be more aggressive toward asserting their rights in their area, he has invited China to establish drug rehab centers, and taken a very soft approach to his victory in the arbitration court regarding the South China Sea.

The US maintains an extensive military partnership with the Philippines, and that country is a centerpiece of its alliance system for countering Chinese regional dominance.

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