Philippines, US hold biggest joint military drills seen during Duterte’s rule but swear they’re not aimed at China

US and Philippine forces have begun their largest annual military exercises under President Rodrigo Duterte, who wanted to scale down America’s military presence and involvement in combat drills as he sought closer ties with China and Russia.
The Balikatan exercises opened on Monday and were to involve combat drills in mock urban settings to train special forces in battling terrorists in cities following an Islamic State-linked siege on southern Marawi city last year.
After rising to…