PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte declared Friday that he would continue to shift the Philippines toward China despite Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election.
At an early morning briefing in Davao, Duterte said that while the US would remain a friend and ally, the Philippines’ foreign policy was now geared toward China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
“I will pursue what I’ve started,” Duterte said following his return from a state visit to Malaysia. “My partnership with China and the rest of Asean will remain. I am not in the habit of reneging on my word.”
Duterte called himself “just a small molecule in the planet” compared with Trump. “He is now president of the most powerful country in the world,” Duterte said. “What we share in common is the passion to serve.”
In a state visit to China last month, Duterte announced a formal “separation” from the US and said he wanted to pivot to China and Russia -- widening a split with his nation’s biggest security ally. Since being sworn in as president in June, Duterte has vowed to end joint military exercises with the US, called for American soldiers to leave the southern island of Mindanao, and told President Barack Obama to “go to hell.”
Even so, with the two countries still bound by several agreements including a mutual defense treaty, Duterte said the Philippines would maintain its cooperation with the US.
“It is still part of trying to play off the United States against China,” said Segundo Romero, a professorial lecturer in development studies at the Ateneo de Manila University.
“His anti-US stance is a mix of sentiments against country and against its leadership.”
In a statement on Wednesday, Duterte said he looked forward to enhancing Philippine-US relations under a future Trump administration, adding that they were “anchored on mutual respect, mutual benefit and shared commitment to democratic ideals and the rule of law.”
An official from the American embassy, meanwhile, said the long-standing friendship has never changed.
In a television interview, US Embassy press attachè Molly Koscina noted that since the friendship started 70 years ago, the relationship between Manila and Washington has grown stronger.
“There have be no changes on our side,” Koscina said in an interview on the show Unang Balita.
“I just want to remind you that the US-Philippine relationship has spanned 70 years and in those 70 years there are 12 presidents, both Republican and Democratic. And through this time, our relationship has only grown stronger,” she said.
Following Trump’s victory, US embassies all throughout the world, including its posting in the Philippines, are preparing a smooth transition for President-elect Donald Trump.
Koscina said President Barrack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are now coordinating with the incoming administration to ensure effective transition.
Trump’s victory shocked the world on Tuesday, sending the US on an uncertain path.
Trump, 70 years old, a real-estate developer and former reality TV host, is the oldest and 45th President of the US. With Bloomberg
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