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SEEKS RUSSIA'S HELP

Duterte: I'm about 'to cross the Rubicon' with the United States


President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday hinted that he's about to go past a point of no return in terms of the Philippines' relationship with the United States, revealing that he had sought help from Russia about the matter.

"I'm about to cross the Rubicon between me and the United States. At least for the next six years. I would need your help," he said, referring to his meeting earlier this month with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev at the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.

The Philippines and the US are treaty allies, having signed a mutual defense treaty in 1951 and a visiting forces agreement in 1998. The US is also the Philippines' biggest foreign investor and the country's second biggest export market next to Japan.

But the relationship has been frayed under Duterte, who has bristled at criticism about the rising death toll of his administration's drug war from the US and other institutions such as the United Nations and the European Union. He has repeatedly expressed his desire to rid Mindanao of American troops supposedly to pursue peace talks, while declaring earlier this month that he wanted to stop joint patrols with the US in the South China Sea amid a maritime dispute with Beijing.

Duterte, meanwhile, has expressed openness to welcome more investments from China and Russia. He has also raised the possibility of buying arms from the two nations.

Meanwhile, with trips to China and Japan also in the works, Duterte bared plans to visit Russia.

“After China, I think I’ll go to Japan and I’ll go to Russia,” Duterte said during his press conference after the oath-taking of the officers of the Malacanang press groups.

'US doesn't like me'

When asked to clarify his statement, Duterte noted that United States needed to get the Congress' approval before its President can declare war to help an ally.

"There is a RP-US Pact that was in the ‘50s. It says that an attack on the Philippines would be an attack of the United States," Duterte said.

"But in the United States Constitution, it says that before a President can declare war, with anybody in defense of an ally, he has to Congress for permission to go to war. That’s the problem. So if Congress will not give him that authority, what will happen to us?"

Duterte said he is aware that the United States did not like him, comparing himself to deposed leaders such as Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

“Iraq, Libya, Syria. It’s in turmoil, every day bomba nang bomba. Ano’ng gusto ninyo? Ayaw na ninyo kay Saddam. Ayaw na ninyo kay Gaddafi. Ayaw ninyo kay Assad. That’s the problem. Ayaw ninyo ako, tapos idale ninyo ang buong Pilipinas,” Duterte said.

In the same press conference, Duterte said he didn't have any plans to junk alliances.

"I am not really going to break ties but we are opening alliances with China," he said. —JST, GMA News

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