MANILA- President Rodrigo Duterte’s pivot to Russia is part of his independent foreign policy, a Malacañang official said Friday.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the Thursday meeting between Duterte and top security officials from Russia is a concrete example of close ties between the two countries.
“The President sought closer ties with Russia and yesterday’s meeting between President Duterte and the Security Council of the Russian Federation where government-to-government cooperation in the fields of security, intelligence, terrorism, crime and law enforcement were discussed is a concrete example of the improving ties between the two nations,” Abella said.
He also assured that the United States is still an ally of the Philippines, and that the country is only seeking new and enhanced partnerships with other countries “based on equality.”
“The President’s decision to pivot with Russia forms part of his independent foreign policy. We seek new or enhanced partnerships based on equality. This new alliance will not exclude other relationships. The United States will remain an ally,” Abella said.
Security officials from Russia and the Philippines discussed law enforcement cooperation, including anti-piracy and anti-narcotics exercises by coast guard and police.
Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia's Security Council and Vladimir Putin's top security adviser, also offered access to an intelligence database to help the Philippines fight crime and militancy, and training for the elite forces assigned to protect Duterte.
Duterte, a vocal fan of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, is set to visit Moscow in May in the hopes of signing a defense treaty. --with reports from Dexter Ganibe, DZMM