Duterte dangles Russia, China but won't drop US: analyst

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 27 2016 08:08 PM | Updated as of Sep 27 2016 08:37 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte may have taken several swipes at the United States for criticizing his bloody war against drugs, but it will be unlikely for the 71-year-old firebrand to completely cut ties with Philippines' long-time ally, a political analyst said Tuesday.

"I don't think he's going to abrogate our military defense agreement with U.S. or the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, but expect to always dangle the Russia, China option whenever the U.S. is pressuring him on different issues. " political analyst Richard Heydarian said.

Heydarian noted that Duterte might be taking a cure from the strategy of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan who "talks to Russia" when the U.S. criticizes his government for human rights violations or when he needs to push the U.S. and allies to give more assistance to Turkey.

"He's (Duterte's) right to say that the United States should give more to us. What the U.S. is giving us pales in comparison to what other countries like Jordan, Egypt, or Pakistan have been getting: billions of dollars in terms of foreign military financing, cutting-edge technology," Heydarian said.

"He's right when he says the U.S. never clarified the extent of their commitment to us under the mutual defense treaty, whether they'll come to our assistance if there's a conflict in the South China Sea," he added, noting the "Philippines has been too subservient to the United States over the decades."

He underscored that Duterte "clarified that he is not talking about having military alliances" with Russia and China, but just talked about "buying some equipment" from the two world leaders.

He added that Duterte will give it a year "to get something out of China."

"If the Chinese don't give him anything, if they take President Duterte for a ride, it's very possible that he'll go back to the previous strategy," he said.

He said it is possible for the Filipino president to "slow down in terms of giving America some access to Subic and Clark," but will not pull the plug on the country's treaty alliance with the world's most powerful military. 

"The Philippines had the highest approval of U.S. last year. If President Duterte has 91% approval rating, U.S. has a 92% approval rating," he said.