Philippines' Duterte heads to Russia in blow to US

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier recounted that Chinese President Xi Jinping threatened that Beijing would go to war if Manila extracts oil and gas in the Reed Bank or in any area within its EEZ.

He said Xi told him that China and Philippines are friends, but Beijing would go to war if Duterte tried to explore for oil in the hotly contested waters where both the countries have territorial claims.

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said he wanted to forge stronger ties with Russian Federation and China as he accused the West of disregarding Philippine interests a day before he leaves for Moscow for a five-day state visit.

Meanwhile, the joint patrol of the country's EEZ with the USA and other partners would be a strategic and tactical move in defending the Philippines' national interest and territorial integrity.

Apart from high-level talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled for May 25, Duterte is also expected to speak at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Russia's top university for future diplomats, and meet with representatives of the Philippine diaspora in Russia.

Kurlantzick suggested that while Duterte is likely to visit Washington he may not want to appear as though he is embracing the USA, given how much he has courted China and Russian Federation.

RODRIGO Duterte will be conferred an honorary doctorate from a top Russian diplomatic institute this week, the first such award to be accepted by the Filipino president since coming to power past year. It contains elements that the parties agreed upon and will be presented to Chinese and ASEAN foreign ministers in August for consideration, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said.

Duterte said he replied that "that's too far away" and it is "almost alien to us to hear those words because we were never under Chinese jurisdiction". "The context is how do we stabilise the region and how do we prevent conflict".

Duterte will leave Monday from Davao City for a "landmark" visit to Russian Federation in line with a decision to pursue an "independent foreign policy", the Foreign Affairs Department said.

Duterte has a "very long, complex history of anti-Americanism", Joshua Kurlantzick, a Southeast Asia fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations told CNN, and his relationship with former President Barack Obama was particularly fractious, with the Filipino leader once calling Trump's predecessor a "son of a bitch".

For this reason, Duterte will not buy weapons from the United States, although the Philippine armed forces need aircraft, drones and speedboats.

They held their first bilateral meeting last November at the APEC Summit in Peru. The President himself has taken a U-turn on Monday by committing to bolster closer ties with Russian Federation and China.

The 2016 trade turnover between Russian Federation and the Philippines only totaled 226 million dollars.

After Duterte came to power in the Philippines in July 2016, the situation related to Manila's foreign policy changed significantly.

  • Joanne Flowers