MANILA - The Philippines and the US share a "crucial" alliance, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Wednesday.
The Philippines, like other countries, has the right to diversify its foreign alliances, Albright told the ANC Leadership Forum.
Albright was asked about Manila's decision to pursue closer ties with Washington's rivals, Moscow and Beijing.
"Our relationship with the Philippines is a very basic and crucial one, with a long tradition as is and and that we need to treat each other with respect," she said.
Albright said it was important for the Philippines to "understand" China's moves.
Manila and Beijing are wrangling over reefs and outcrops in the South China Sea. Duterte has refused to highlight the Philippines' win before an international arbitration court as he sought more investments from China.
"It doesn't have to be a zero-sum relationship," she said.
Even as a binding code of conduct in the South China Sea has not been reached, Manila's win in international court will not be diminished, she said.
"It doesn’t mean that the decision is overtaken by events. I believe that it will be useful," she said.