"Let me clarify. The president did not talk about separation", Philippines Trade Minister Ramon Lopez told CNN Philippines on Friday, joining a small chorus of high-ranking Philippine officials and elites to denounce, walk back, or express bafflement at their president's words.
In remarks that will alarm policy-makers in the USA and its allies in Asia and the Pacific, Mr Duterte said: "In this venue, your honours in this venue, I announce separation from the United States. But this will happen only if the Filipino people's national democratic struggle will continue to advance and if the Duterte regime will forge with them a patriotic alliance", it said. "America has lost", he declared. "I've realigned myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russian Federation to talk to (President Vladimir) Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world - China, Philippines and Russian Federation". "It is the only way".
Until Duterte took office, the Philippines was seen as one of the United States' most important allies in Asia and a key to Obama's "pivot" in the region.
The White House on Friday likened the administration of firebrand Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to the Trump campaign.
Mr Duterte's tone towards China is in stark contrast to the language he has used against the USA, after being infuriated by American criticism of his bloody war on drugs.
Duterte has also repeated his denunciation of Obama on Thursday as a "son of a whore". "You do not constrain, do not restrain me from doing business with China", he said.
After watching a video of the remarks, global law professor Julian Ku at Hofstra University tweeted that "Duterte looks like a supplicant".
Decidedly, whoever wins the presidency-Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton-will have an impact on the lives of some four million US-based Filipinos-from Hawaii and Alaska on the west side to NY and MA on the Atlantic side.
"I don't know what separation means quite frankly, because we are so inextricably linked", he said.
According to USA oilfield services company Weatherford, one concession - SC 72 - contains 2.6-8.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
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With the USA presidential elections less than three weeks away, political analysts from Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, are having their radar screens on the high-strung polls. An anti-American demonstration outside the U.S. embassy ended violently on Wednesday with dozens of people arrested and many injured. The Philippine Trade Secretary says he expects almost $14 billion in trade and investment deals to be signed during this visit.
Meanwhile, relations between Duterte and the U.S. aren't quite as rosy.
Goldberg on Friday stressed, however, that the the U.S. has a "solid and solemn commitment" to the Philippines in both economic and military terms. The Philippine leader and Chinese President Xi Jinping are getting closer, while Washington now is ignored. "The two should strengthen law enforcement and defense cooperation".
In Friday's speech, Duterte went after the United States' criticism of his war on crime, which has left more than 3,600 dead since he took power on June 30.
Xi and Duterte on Thursday agreed to a resumption of direct talks on disputes in the South China Sea, following years of rising tension.
China claims most of the waters through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year, and in 2012 it seized the disputed Scarborough Shoal and denied Philippine fishermen access to its fishing grounds.
"Filipinos want better lives and a safer and more prosperous nation".
Duterte has also suspended joint US-Philippine patrols in the strategically vital South China Sea, and has threatened an end to joint military exercises.
"It isn't just the United States that is baffled by this rhetoric", Kirby said.