The United States remains the "closest friend" of the Philippines but Manila wants to break away from a "mindset of dependency and subservience" and forge closer ties with other nations, according to the Philippine foreign minister.
The comments by Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay came two days after President Rodrigo Duterte announced his "separation" from Washington. Yasay said in a Facebook posting that Duterte had "unmistakably" stated that severing ties with Washington was not in the nation's interest.
However, he wrote that separation "implies breaking away from the debilitating mindset of dependency and subservience, economically and militarily, that have perpetuated our 'little brown brother' image to America, which has stunted our growth and advancement."
He said Duterte had told Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders during a visit to Beijing that "if they are not willing to lend their support... the Filipinos will chart their destiny alone, despite great odds."
On Friday, Duterte's economic managers clarified the Philippines was not cutting economic and trade ties with the United States. Prior to Duterte taking office in late June, China was a bitter rival of the Philippines and Manila was one of Washington's most dependable Asian allies.
Duterte's efforts to engage China, months after a tribunal in the Hague ruled that Beijing did not have historic rights to the South China Sea in a case brought by the previous administration in Manila, marks a reversal in foreign policy since the 71-year-old former mayor took office on June 30.
"It is not severance of ties. When you say severance of ties, you cut diplomatic relations. I cannot do that," Duterte told reporters at a news conference in his southern home city of Davao after he arrived from his four-day trip to Beijing.
On Tuesday, an opinion poll showed Filipinos still trust the United States far more than China.