Duterte: Philippinesâ destiny is in Asia
President Rodrigo Duterte disembarks from the Philippine Airlines Chartered Flight PR001 upon his arrival at the Qionghai Bo'ao International Airport in Hainan Province, China on April 9, 2018. Also in the photo is Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Toto Lozano/Presidential Photo

Duterte: Philippines’ destiny is in Asia

Ian Nicolas Cigaral (Philstar.com) - April 10, 2018 - 12:26pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ destiny is in Asia, said President Rodrigo Duterte, whose administration is pursuing a more independent foreign policy that is marked by lesser dependence on long-time security ally the United States and stronger relations with China.

“As an engine of growth, Asia is poised to make a larger footprint on the global economy,” Duterte said in a speech during the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia in China.

“And every country in Asia, big or small, has a role to play and its own contribution to make,” he added.

Months after he came to power, Duterte stoked diplomatic alarm by announcing his “separation” from the US after being infuriated by Barack Obama’s criticism of his bloody war on drugs. He said he would forge closer ties with China and Russia—the two powers with historic rivalries with Washington.

But since US President Donald Trump’s victory in 2016, ties between Manila and Washington had a fresh start, with Trump praising his Filipino counterpart’s deadly anti-narcotic campaign.

“Bilaterally, the Philippines is showing how complex relations are, but not a bar to positive and mutually beneficial engagements,” Duterte told the Boao forum.

“As sovereign equals, the Philippines and China are partners in the building in the much-needed infra which are the building blocks and bridges for greater understanding between our two peoples,” he added.

‘Building blocks’

Despite Duterte's warm relations with China, the Philippines has a long history of mistrust of it as the two countries continue to spar over the resource-rich South China Sea.

Meanwhile, Duterte has courted regional rivals China and Japan to help him bankroll his ambitious infrastructure plan.

“The building blocks are there, Asia’s major economies are providing models for which smaller ones can learn. Developing economies are slowly hitting the demographic sweet spot,” the Philippine leader said.

“Cooperate, coordinate and collaborate so we can achieve our shared dream of prosperity for all,” he added.

The Duterte administration has set an P8.44-trillion infrastructure spending plan until 2022 to spur gross domestic product growth to 7-8 percent.

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