"It is not severance of ties. You say severance of ties, you cut the diplomatic relations. I cannot do that. Why? It is in the best interest of my country that we maintain that relationship. Why? Because there are many Filipinos in the United States. Well, Americans of Filipino ancestry. Why? Because the people of my country [are] not ready to accept. I said separation — what I was really saying was separation of a foreign policy," Duterte was quoted as saying by CNN during a press conference in the country's Davao City.
On Thursday, Duterte said during a visit to Beijing that his country was separating from the United States in order to realign with China.
White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz said the United States had not received any official request to change the nature of its relationship with the Philippines.