MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday reiterated his commitment to bolstering ties with Russia and China, saying that Western nations are only interested in "double talk."
In an interview with Moscow-based TV network Russia Today, Duterte said that though he has nothing against the US, the Philippines needs a foreign policy that is independent from American interests.
"I have nothing against America, [US President Donald] Trump is my friend. But my foreign policy has shifted. I want to deal with China and Russia. Because in Western world, it’s double talk," he said.
The Philippines, a former US colony, has a military alliance with Washington and has imported majority of its arms from US suppliers for decades.
Duterte however has been a vocal critic of the Western giant after the latter raised concern on the deaths of thousands of drug suspects amid his crackdown on narcotics.
The President has also repeatedly expressed his desire to seek military hardware from China and Russia.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana last week signed a letter of intent with a Chinese state-owned firm for future purchases.
Duterte is expected to sign a similar agreement with Russia when he visits Moscow and St. Petersburg this week.
"Russia sells weapons, no conditions. With the US it’s a different story. They make conditions. But I’m not gonna stand on bended knees," the President told Russian media ahead of his state visit.
"If my country collapses, who will bring it back? The US? We need weapons," he added.
Earlier this May, 2 American senators filed a bill seeking to restrict the export of arms from the US to Philippine police due to killings being linked to Duterte’s drug war.
The administration has downplayed concerns over deaths in the war on drugs, saying roughly 2,700 -- not 9,000 or more commonly reported -- were slain in presumed legitimate police operations.