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Duterte on Russia-Ukraine conflict: Not our battle to fight

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday maintained the Philippines must remain neutral in the ongoing military conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

In a speech in Palo, Leyte, Duterte said it was best for the country not to take sides reiterating that the Philippines should not be “dragged” in the crisis situation.

“Sa ibang parte ng mundo, nagpapatayan na sa Europe, Russia. So, we better, yung neutrality natin, we just maintain it. Umiwas tayo para hindi tayo madamay,” Duterte said.

“In other parts of the world, there are killings in Europe and Russia. We better maintain our neutrality. Let’s evade it so we won’t be dragged into it,” he added.

Duterte, who repeatedly claimed himself to be a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been consistent in his stance to stay neutral.

He also said he would refuse to send Filipino forces in the war-torn country even at the request of the United States (US) fearing that doing so may result in a “spillover” of the conflict.

“Hindi ako magko-commit ng gyera, kung ang mga Amerikano pupunta dito sa atin, na ipapadala ko ang aking mga sundalo? Hindi natin iyan away. Mag spill over, magkaroon ng actual g'yera dito, mahirap na,” Duterte said.

“Ayoko. Habang ako pa ang presidente, di ako papayag kahit isang sundalo. Hindi natin away yan. huwag tayo makialam,” he added.

“Sinabi na nga ng lahat ng scientists, if it goes nuclear that's the end of the world. Tapos na talaga ang lahat. You will suffer for a long time of a planet which is radioactive all over and you cannot plant anything and you will just die of hunger,” Duterte said.

“I won’t commit to the war. If the Americans will come here and ask me to send our troops? No. That’s not our fight. It will be dangerous if the conflict will spill over here,” he added.

“As long as I am the President I won’t allow even a single military man to go there. We should let them be.”

The Philippines has a Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States which binds the two allies to come to each other’s aid from aggression and help defend the other party.

Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez said the President has expressed willingness to open the country’s facilities to American military troops in the event the war spills over to the Asian Region.

He explained that while Duterte "values the friendship he made with [Russian] President Putin and [Chinese] President Xi, he knows that this thing happening right now in Ukraine is something that should not have happened because it was unprovoked.”

Thousands have been killed while more than three million Ukrainians have been displaced from their homes three weeks since Russia launched its “full-scale” invasion of Ukraine.

The Philippines joined 140 countries in denouncing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine before the United Nations, expressing “explicit condemnation” against “the use of force against the political independence and territorial integrity of any state.” —NB, GMA News