PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte clarified Tuesday that the Philippines harbors no ill-feelings towards its long-time ally, the United States (US), while pursuing close cooperation with China and Russia.
Duterte said the US is "perfectly alright" but that he has to implement his independent foreign policy, which main objective is to veer away from the country's dependence on traditional allies.
"I have nothing against America. They're perfectly alright. [US President Donald] Trump is my friend. But my foreign policy has shifted from the pro-Western one. I am now working on alliance with China, and I hope to start a good working relationship with Russia," Duterte told Russian television network RT prior to his week-long visit to Russia.
Duterte is currently in Moscow, Russia for a four-day official visit.
In his departure speech in Davao City Monday, the President said he was expecting that he would be able to correct the Philippines' "over dependence" on its traditional partners and mend ties with non-traditional partners like Russia.
The Philippines' relations with the US has apparently been tainted after Trump's predecessor, former US President Barack Obama, expressed worry over Duterte's brutal crackdown on illegal drugs that resulted in the deaths of thousands of individuals.
Duterte has launched series of profanity-laced remarks against the US and his other critics like the European Union (EU).
The President slammed US and EU for intervening in the affairs of other countries, "in the guise of human rights."
He also accused them of "double talk," citing his decision to turn down EU's assistance due to a condition that the Philippines should use grants in upholding human rights.
"The Western world, the EU, and everything – it's all this double talk. So the EU granted $200 million, and this grants carried with it a condition that this money would be used to improve the human rights, and so on and so forth. I said, 'No, I don't need it,'" Duterte said.
"In the guise of human rights, countries like EU and America are interfering into the affairs of other nations," he added.
While he has repeatedly chastised EU and US, Duterte has seemed to be soft-spoken when it comes to China and Russia.
He, in fact, refused to invoke the country's rights over the disputed South China Sea to other claimant, China, for fear that it might really get forced to declare war, if his administration pushes through with its plan to drill oil in the resource-rich waters.
"Do you expect me to fight China in a war? Do I have the cruise missiles to hit them? Do I have the missiles to launch when they [bomb] us? So what will happen is going to be a massacre," Duterte said.
"Never mind about the insistence of the arbitral [ruling]. At the end of the day is this: you say it is yours and I say, it is mine," he added.
In July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of Philippines in its arbitration case against China in the South China Sea.
As for Russia, Duterte is looking forward to seal defense deal during his visit to Moscow.
Duterte added that he would rather choose Russia than America because it is "bright and generous."
"I'm just playing with my mind that the Russians are brighter than the Americans. I think they are more sophisticated, more precise. And I said that since Russia is brighter than America, I'll go to Russia. Also, because the Russians are not only bright, they are generous and help all," he said. (SunStar Philippines)