MANILA 一 Malacañang on Wednesday said Filipinos must have a deeper appreciation of the importance of expanding ties with other countries other than traditional Philippine allies as the country charts its own course in the international community.
This was highlighted by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella in reaction to a recent poll which showed majority of Filipinos expressing distrust towards China and Russia, two superpowers that President Rodrigo Duterte has reached out to.
In a Pulse Asia poll conducted on March 15 to 20 this year, 63 percent of respondents said they distrust China while 56 percent expressed distrust to Russia.
This despite the Philippines enjoying warming relations with the two superpowers as a result of President Duterte’s move towards a more “independent foreign policy.”
“As the President charts an independent foreign policy, the public needs a deeper understanding of the need for expanding our diplomatic horizons,” Abella said.
The Palace official said that enhancing diplomatic ties with China and Russia provides the country with more room for growth.
“The Duterte administration is charting the path of broader diplomatic relations with the international community, and the renewed ties with Russia and China provide a healthy opportunity to appreciate and understand these two countries,” he said.
“Our enhanced relations with China and Russia will bolster our international relations and give us more room to grow, expand, and become more rooted as we get to know ourselves better as a nation in a community of nations,” Abella said.
In October last year, President Duterte reaped USD 24 billion in aid and investment pledges from Beijing during his four-day state visit to China.
According to Philippine officials, the amount constitutes USD 9 billion in soft loans that included a USD 3 billion credit line with the Bank of China, and USD 15 billion in economic and investment deals.
President Duterte is scheduled to visit Beijing anew this month for “One Belt, One Road” summit, a high level gathering among leaders.
Meanwhile, Duterte is also set to visit Russia in the latter part of May.