MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has no plans yet of forging a military alliance with Russia.
Speaking to Russian television network RT, Duterte said he only wanted to forge closer ties with Russia and neighbor China “to show to the world that I’m not limited to a few countries, that I have to interact with the rest of the world because we are a sovereign state.”
“We have to do business and have diplomatic relations with everybody. If there is good to it, then I thank god,” he said.
He said the Philippines may not be ready for a military pact with either Russia and China right now.
“I’m not ready for military alliances because we have a treaty signed in the '50s,” Duterte said, referring to the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the United States and Philippines.
“But I’m ready to cooperate with my new friends, China and Russia, to make this world more peaceful.”
Duterte has been blasting the US for its criticisms of his war on drugs.
Angered by what he believes is Washington’s intervention in domestic affairs, Duterte is seeking to distance the Philipines from the world’s most powerful country, and pivot the country's foreign policy toward Beijing and Moscow.
Following the threat of a US senator to block a firearms’ purchase for the Philippine National Police, Duterte said he would simply turn to Russia or China for the country's firearms needs.
“I said, I have a friend who has plenty. As a matter of fact he is selling it buy 1, take 1,” Duterte said.
Despite Duterte’s sharp rhetoric against the US, polls show that Filipinos trust the US more than China.
Duterte said, this is not surprising considering the Philippines was a former US colony.
“But little by little I’m telling them, I made this decision because -- but I think the Filipinos know the reason in their heart why, because I have been very vocal and use the strongest terms when I said we are not a nation of beggars,” he said.
Duterte hinted that damaged US-Philippines relations might be saved with the assumption into office of of President-elect Donald Trump.
The tough-talking Filipino leader earlier said, he has been urged to repair ties with the US now that Washington is about to welcome its new leader.
“I’m not at liberty to make it public, but there are feelers now, even retired generals, and they wrote me a long letter and the last sentence is that ‘There is no doubt in our minds that we can be great friends again and reset the whole thing,’” he said.