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Duterte’s Words Point to ‘Serious Shift’ in Foreign Policy Toward Russia, China

By Sputnik News

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte © REUTERS/ Kim Kyung-Hoon
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte © REUTERS/ Kim Kyung-Hoon

STUNG by the US State Department’s decision to cancel the sale of 26,000 assault rifles for the Philippine police, the country’s President Rodrigo Duterte called those responsible for the decision “monkeys” and “fools.”

“Look at these monkeys, the 26,000 firearms we wanted to buy, they don’t want to sell,” Duterte said during a televised speech on Wednesday.

The Philippine leader never minces words when referring to US politicians. Earlier he called President Barack Obama “a son of a b*tch” and the US ambassador in Manila “an annoying homosexual.”

In Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby said that despite Duterte’s swipe, the US remained committed to developing a good working relationship with the Philippines and its President.

The question is whether the Philippines and its President are equally committed to having good relations with Washington.

Rodrigo Duterte earlier said that he was preparing a dramatic change in its foreign policy and that he planned to cancel a defense cooperation deal with the US.

“I will break up with America,” Duterte declared in a speech earlier this year, adding that he would rather “go to Russia and to China.”

Even though some of these statements were later disavowed by top members of his administration and by Duterte himself, it looks like the Philippine President is really committed to the idea of forging closer ties with China and Russia.

“If [Duterte] really means what he says, we may see a serious shift towards a more balanced foreign policy which has in mind not only the US but Russia and China as well,” Vladimir Svedentsov, a political analyst at the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies told Sputnik.

According to the president, the Philippines may well find other sources to buy weapons if the US refuses to cooperate.

“Russia and China are ready to supply us arms. Russian diplomats told me: ’Come to Russia, we have everything you need,’” Duterte said.

According to Pyotr Tsvetayev, a Moscow-based political scientist, Russian arms supplies to the Philippines have the potential of becoming a major area of mutually-beneficial cooperation between the two countries.

“We have already showed them our warplanes, helicopters and Igla MANPADS, but until now they had been bound by their defense cooperation pact with the Americans,” Tsvetov said.

Time will show whether the Philippine President’s plans to buy Russian arms are sheer rhetoric or a well-thought out program.

The US State Department halted the sale of the M4 assault rifles to Philippines police over concerns about reported human rights violations in the bloody war on drugs initiated by Duterte earlier this year.

Read more: https://sputniknews.com/asia/201611061047118141-philippines-president-shift/

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