Philippine tough guy president Rodrigo Duterte announced his country’s separation from the United States Thursday in favor of a closer relationship with China and possibly Russia.
Speaking to the Filipino community in Beijing, Duterte said his country’s long-time alliance with the U.S. no longer served the national interest and it was time to rethink foreign policy, according to SpaceWar.
“Your stay in my country was for your own benefit. So time to say goodbye, my friend,” he said, as if addressing the U.S. “I will not go to America anymore. I will just be insulted there.”
Duterte has been making controversial comments about President Barack Obama for weeks now and during his realignment speech, the Philippine president criticized the U.S. economy, military and general behavior, reported ABC News.
“Both in military, not maybe social, but economics also, America has lost. There are three of us against the world – China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way.”
The new Philippine foreign policy is quite a shift from the country’s former stance, which saw it allied with America, its former colonial ruler.
Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Acquino, took Beijing to an international tribunal in the Hague over China’s extensive claims in the South China Sea. The Philippines won the trial, which enraged Beijing, but after Duterte took office in June, he ignored the ruling and today announced his country has sealed the rift with China, according to Reuters.
“I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to (President Vladimir) Putin.”
The abrupt realignment shocked and confused U.S. officials who have been looking to the Philippines as a way to rebalance military resources in the pivot to Asia as China continues to rise in prominence.
A senior Obama administration official played down Duterte’s remarks telling NBC News the U.S. invests some $4.7 billion in the Filipino economy annually.
“The U.S.-Philippines alliance is built on a 70-year history, rich people-to-people ties, including a vibrant Filipino-American diaspora, and a long list of shared security interests.”
The Philippines is also a major player in the Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership deal the president is struggling to pass through Congress before he leaves office.
Duterte, a 71-year-old former mayor, took office June 30 after a landslide victory in which he promised to kill criminals. After taking office he began a brutal drug war on criminals in his country that has seen more than 3,000 people killed in a few short months.
His brutal methods have drawn outrage from the U.S. and the United Nations, but nothing but praise from China, according to the Washington Post.
“Let me tell you. This is the law of my land.”
Duterte has been roundly critical of anyone disagreeing with his policies and has publicly cussed out Obama, the U.N., and the European Union, which has accused the Filipino president of human rights abuse.
Obama cancelled a meeting with Duterte after the Filipino president cussed him out in a profanity filled speech.
After Duterte’s speech, top policy makers in his administration released a statement saying it was long past time to integrate Asian economic policy with Philippine affairs, but that didn’t mean the country was abandoning its relationship with the U.S.
That same day, 1,000 anti-U.S. protestors rallied outside the U.S. embassy in Manila to demand the withdraw of American military forces. Duterte remains wildly popular at home, but a Reuters poll on Tuesday showed most Filipinos continue to trust the U.S. more than China, which banned Philippine fisherman from its South China Sea territory.
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[Featured Image by Wu Hong/Pool Photo via AP]