MANILA - Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque believes President Rodrigo Duterte's foreign policy is more of a pivot to Asia than a pivot to China, after the Philippines being a long-time ally of the United States.
"When he (Duterte) said that the Philippines will turn to Asia, it was not just to China alone. He specifically mentioned Japan and Russia as well and that is why this subsequent trip to China confirms that the pivot is not just to China but to Asia," Roque explained.
Roque, who was part of the president's delegation in his state visit to China last week, said that the Philippines should take advantage of the tremendous economic growth of China.
However, the lawmaker cautioned that the president's foreign policy does not mean that Duterte simply switched alliances from the U.S. to China.
"To reiterate, I support the president's position on his independent foreign policy and I believe this is the reason why I was invited to form part of the delegation. But I would like to point out that by pursuing an independent foreign policy, my interpretation is we will also be independent from a country like China," Roque said.
He cited China's economic might, as well as its closeness to the Philippine culturally and geographically, in backing the policy shift of the president.
"Our ties go back even prior to the coming of the Spaniards. As succinctly stated by the Chinese premier, our history with China dates back to a thousand years and we have had no major problems in this thousand year-old relationship," the lawmaker explained.
Roque also claimed that the assistance from China comes with no strings attached.