Duterte vows to correct "overdependence" with traditional partners by opening "wider" door for Russia
President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday the Philippines has missed many opportunities due to its "overdependence" with traditional partners.
Thus, Duterte vowed to correct this as he left for a five-day official visit to Russia where he, along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, is set to witness several cooperation agreements to further improve the relations of the two countries.
In his departure speech in Davao City, Duterte noted the doors of cooperation between the Philippines and Russia opened 40 years ago.
"But it has opened ever so slightly. There is much room to develop mutually beneficial cooperation. There are many opportunities that needed to be explored. Now we can work together to open those doors even wider," Duterte said.
"Russia must cease to be at the margins of Philippine diplomacy. Overdependence on traditional partners has limited our room to maneuver in a very dynamic international arena. This is a strategic oversight that has led to many missed opportunities for our country," he stressed.
When Duterte assumed post, he has vowed to pursue an independent foreign policy, without being dependent to the United States, one of the three strategic partners of the Philippines. Japan and Vietnam are the two other strategic partners.
"My visit underscores the independence of the Philippines' foreign policy and the firm resolve to broaden the horizons of friendship and cooperation with other nations. russia is a country that we must work with," he said.
"My administration will give Philippines-Russia relations the importance commensurate to its full potential. We will push for pragmatic engagement in the politico-security sphere, increased economic cooperation, and enhanced cultural and people-to-people exchanges," Duterte said.
He said his visit to Russia upon Putin's invitation is the concrete expression of his administration's deliberate policy decision.
In his meeting with Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in separate occasions, Duterte said he would discuss ways of charting future direction of the two countries' partnership across many areas.
"We will exchange views on regional and international issues to determine how we can best advance our shared interest," he said.
Duterte and Putin, after their bilateral meeting on May 25, will witness signing of agreements related to defense, security, legal assistance, trade and investment, peaceful use of nuclear energy and culture.
Duterte said he would also take the opportunity to engage the business leaders in Russia and would tell them the Philippines "means serious business."
He said he would meet the Filipino community in Moscow to thank them for their contributions to nation building. There are around 5,000 Filipinos in Russia.
Duterte would also be conferred a doctorate degree at Moscow State Institution of International Relations (MGIMO University).
Duterte is accompanied by a "high level delegation," which includes key members of the Cabinet, congressional leaders and businessmen. Celerina Monte/DMS