President Duterte has expressed readiness to work with Russia and China on world peace, but ruled out any military alliance with them.
“I am not ready for military alliances because we have a treaty that was signed in the ’50s,” Mr. Duterte told a Russian television network (RT), referring to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and the United States.
“But I am ready to cooperate with my new friends, China and Russia, to make this world more peaceful,” he told interviewer Marina Kosareva when asked about the status of defense cooperation between the Philippines and Russia.
Mr. Duterte has been forging warmer ties with Russia and China, even as he stepped up his anti-US rhetoric in his rambling speeches.
The President said the country’s plan to purchase guns from the United States was now under review. He, however, said he has a “friend” who has plenty of firearms to offer the government.
He earlier said that Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he met on the sidelines of an economic summit in Peru, offered to sell firearms to the Philippines at an apparent bargain, or in a buy-one-take-one deal.
In the interview, Mr. Duterte said he was befriending Russia to show the world he was not limited to a few countries.
“And we have to do business and to have diplomatic relations with everybody. And if there is good to it, then I thank God,” he added.
Mr. Duterte also told RT that he believed Filipinos would understand his recent moves, including the waning of ties with the United States.
When told that opinion polls show that many Filipinos back an alliance with the United States, he said this was understandable because the country had been under the Americans for 50 years.
But he believed his explanation would get through to his countrymen.
“It should not surprise you. It’s ingrained in the genealogy of the Filipinos. But little by little I’ve been telling them, I made this decision because…I think the Filipinos know the reason in their heart why,” he said.
He said that he had been vocal about his grievances against the United States, which he had openly castigated for threatening to withdraw aid from the Philippines if the country did not do its bidding.
As to whether he could be friends with the United States under President-elect Donald Trump, Mr. Duterte alluded to sentiments from retired generals who want the country to renew ties with the United States.