Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he is at a “point of no return” in relations with the United States and will seek closer ties with Russia and China. Speaking to reporters Monday, Duterte said he is not ready to break ties completely with the US. But he said he will open up the other side of the ideological barrier.
Duterte said he will soon travel to Beijing for talks with President Xi Jinping on forming closer ties.
The Philippines has recently been at odds with China over competing claims in the South China Sea. In July, an international court ruled in favor of Manila in a case challenging China's historical claims to large areas of the sea.
China has rejected the ruling.
Duterte said he has already spoken with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, whom he plans to meet in Moscow. “I would need your help in everything – trade, commerce – and I will open up,” he said he told Medvedev.
He announced that both Chinese and Russian companies would be able to lease land in the Philippines for up to 120 years.
U.S. - Philippines relations
The comments come at a time of strained relations between the United States and the Philippines. The two countries have a long history of strong economic and defense ties.
Philippine National Police chief Director-General Ronald dela Rosa (2nd-R) talks to fellow police officers during a Senate hearing regarding people killed during a crackdown on illegal drugs in Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines, Aug. 23, 2016.
Recently, U.S. officials criticized the Philippine leader’s bloody crackdown on illegal drugs. Police and other groups in the Philippines have so far killed more than 3,000 people reportedly involved in the drug trade.
The Americans’ criticism drew strong condemnation from Duterte. He repeatedly has said he is looking to distance the Philippines from the United States.
Last month, U.S. officials canceled a meeting between Duterte and President Barack Obama, after Duterte called Obama a "son of a whore."
Duterte later expressed regret for the comment. He said he was warning U.S. officials not to speak out about the drug crackdown.
U.S. Marines from the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and Philippine marines take their positions as they take part in a boat raid exercise during their joint military exercise, dubbed PHIBLEX 2016.
On Monday, Duterte also expressed concerns about a defense treaty signed by the two countries in 1951. He said the agreement does not guarantee that the U.S. would come to Manila’s defense if the Philippines was attacked. He said this is because the U.S. president must first get the approval of Congress.
Other countries and the United Nations have also criticized the Philippine government’s drug war. The president has reportedly permitted death squads to kill accused drug offenders.
The European parliament recently issued a statement calling on Duterte’s government to "put an end to the current wave of extrajudicial executions and killings.” It also expressed concern about the high number of people killed during police operations.
Duterte singled out the European Union criticism during a speech last week in Manila. “Why would you insult me?” he asked.
He also used a vulgar term to refer to the E.U. and displayed an obscene finger sign directed at the organization.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from the Associated Press, Reuters and AFP. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.
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Words in This Story
ideological – adj. based on a particular set of ideas or beliefs
whore – n. an offensive term for someone who engages in sex for money
death squad – n. a group of people given the task of killing others, usually with the indirect approval of government
extrajudicial – adj. justice delivered without legal authority
vulgar – adj. offensive language
obscene – adj. very offensive, insulting