Duterte: We have to take sides
MANILA— President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday warned the public about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, warning that the conflict may pose a great danger to the entire world should it get out of control.
In a speech in Narvacan, Ilocos Sur, Duterte sounded the alarm on the possible use of nuclear warheads in the conflict, as Russia continued shelling Ukraine in what is considered the biggest attack on a European country since World War II.
Malacañang earlier called for the "immediate end" of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, noting that "war benefits no one."
"Kapag hindi ito na-control, delikado ang mundo. Once they start to push the button of nuclear warheads or nuclear bombs, sabi nga ng isang commentator, it will melt the world," Duterte said.
"Bahala na yung magpatayan sila doon huwag lang magamit ng nuclear device because talo na tayong lahat. Pati tayo damay... Let us just be hopefully, keep our fingers crossed, na walang katok doon."
He added that while the Philippines is supposedly neutral on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, there would come a time that the country would need to pick a side.
"Ako naman, we stay neutral but reality tells me that in the end, we'll just have to select which side we would be. Of course I know that the sentiment prevailing almost throughout the country," said Duterte.
The President recalled a proverb that the hottest place in hell is reserved for people who chose to be neutral in times of crisis.
"There is a saying, the hottest place in hell is reserved for a man facing a critical issues to remain neutral. Pinakamainit is those who, kaya we have to take sides," he continued.
The grim developments have prompted US President Joe Biden to call 9 ASEAN leaders, including him, to Washington on March 28, Duterte said, citing information from Philippine Ambassador to US Jose Manuel Romualdez.
Duterte did not say in his speech if he accepted the invitation.
Duterte also urged nations to watch out for Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he described as a “suicidal” leader.
He said he recalled an interview 6 years ago, before he was elected President, where he said Putin was dangerous.
"Tinanong ako about Russia, sabi ko Americans will never stomach death and destruction. Takot sila. The Americans will not... but you watch out for Putin, he is suicidal," Duterte said.
"Kaya 'pag mapahiya siya dito, magwawala 'yan and I realized it when I went to Russia. I had a talk with him on all aspects of life,” he said.
On Tuesday night, Duterte convened a special top level meeting with government, police and military officials in Malacañang to address the effects of the conflict, which the Palace says poses significant economic, trade, and human resource implications to the country and the Filipino people.
Thousands of people are believed to have been killed or wounded and more than 1 million refugees have fled from Ukraine since Feb. 24 due to Russia invasion.