Duterte eyes improved trade deals with China, Russia

President Rodrigo Duterte has sought to further boost the Philippines’ alliances with Russia and China, particularly on trade and commerce.

Duterte issued the statement, in an exclusive interview with Russia Today aired on Friday. Russia Today is an international news channel funded by its government.

“And the economics, I’m veering towards so many… I’d like to open new fronts with Russia (and) with China,” the President said.

“We have increased in trade and commerce. It’s robust. And maybe if I could start trading with Russia it would be good, it would be that fine,” he added.

The President renewed his intent to forge closer ties with Russia and China, as he praised the two countries for respecting the sovereignty of the Philippines.

He made the remarks, as he expressed dismay over the supposed failure of the United States, a long-time ally of the Philippines, to respect the Philippines’ sovereignty.

“(US) continues to look at us as vassal state because we’re under Americans for 50 years and they lived off the fat of the land before we got our independence. We went to war against them. So if I cannot get a credible posture from the Americans, I can get it from the Russian and the Chinese government(s), it’s because they respect the sovereignty of the country, which America is totally lacking,” he said.

“I mean, America is not the Philippines and the Philippines is not America. It ain’t that way anymore. And I refuse to dovetail under American foreign policy. They’re always antagonizing the Chinese, and so with the Philippines,” Duterte added.

The Philippines’ relationship with China and Russia has improved under Duterte’s leadership.

Duterte bared he still has the interest to purchase helicopters from Russia.

This came following reports in September 2019 that the Armed Forces of the Philippines was eyeing the procurement of 16 Mi-17 medium-lift Russian helicopters with a total worth of USD235 million from Russia, as part of its modernization program.

“We had our priorities. I was buying for 12 cargo helicopters and you know, we are not a rich country. However, we programmed the funds of the government, how to budget it. There’s always not enough to go around with,” Duterte said.

“So I’m sure that we will have to make the downpayment and be prompt. You know, just because Russia is a friend, it doesn’t follow that we abscond or we do not pay our debts. So it’s still money and we are really short of it. Actually, we are not that rich,” he added.

Duterte, in turn, assured that Russia can look for “viable” business in the Philippines. PNA.GOV.PH