By Genalyn Kabiling
Russia and China have never asked for the establishment of military bases in the Philippines in exchange of defense support for the country, President Duterte said last Monday.
Amid the country’s closer ties with Russia and China, the President admitted that they merely sought goodwill visits of their ships to the country’s ports, but not build permanent bases.
“Sabihin ko sa inyo sa mga opisyal na hanggang ngayon ni papel o pencil, walang hiningi ang Russia pati China. Ni hindi nagsabi na ‘Pwede kaming maglagay ng base diyan?’ [I tell you, until now, Russia and China have not asked for anything, not even for paper or pencil. They did not ask ‘May we build a base there?],” Duterte said during his visit to Jolo, Sulu last Monday.
“Ang pinakamalayo nila is, “Tignan mo ‘yung mga barko namin, mayor. Magaganda. Paparking kami.” Eh lahat naman dadaan. Goodwill ‘yan eh. Totoo ‘yan [All that they requested for so far is to show their ships, ‘Look at our ships, mayor. They’re beautiful. We will just park here for a while.’ Everyone is passing anyway. That’s goodwill. That’s the truth],” he added.
Duterte reaffirmed that he has no intention of forging new military alliances either with China or Russia. “No military alliances. Wala. Hindi rin ako papayag [No military alliances. Nothing. I will not agree to it],” he said.
He asserted the country’s independent foreign policy, saying he does not want to be ordered around by another foreign nation.
“Ayaw kong matali maski kanino, maski sa Amerikano. Kasi kung may magtali sa iyo, pwede ka na sabihin kung anong gusto nila [I don’t want any alliance with anyone even with the Americans. Because if you’re bound to them, they can order you around],” he said.
Duterte recalled turning to Russia and China for defense assistance after the United States blocked the sale of weapons to the country several months ago. He also mentioned the botched helicopter acquisition from Canada on alleged human rights concerns over the government’s war on drugs.
“Ngayon, nagtampo ako. Pumunta ako ng Russia, binigyan ako ng armas, libre [I was upset so I went to Russia which gave me weapons for free],” he said.
“Pumunta ako ng China, sabi ko bibili ako. Pautangin mo lang ako. Tapos pumunta ako ng Russia, ibinigay lang sa akin [So I went to China, I told them I will buy but offer me a loan. Then I went to Russia, it was given to me],” he added.
Russian and Chinese naval vessels have made port calls to the country in recent months amid improving relations under President Duterte’s watch.
Duterte has sought to strengthen ties with these two nations as he became hostile towards the US over the previous administration’s criticisms of his brutal drug war.