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Marcos: Philippines in talks with Russia to buy fuel

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Marcos: Philippines in talks with Russia to buy fuel
President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. met with the Filipino community at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Sunday (Sept. 18, 2022).
Photos by Office of the Press Secretary

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is in talks with Russia to buy fuel and other key commodities, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said in an interview on Friday, as he remarked that national interest trumps political considerations over the war in Ukraine.

“Now maybe we need to approach Russia, say that maybe they can loosen up and provide us with fuel,” Marcos told Bloomberg TV, adding that the Philippines is “close” to striking deals with Russia and others.

Asked about US-led sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, Marcos acknowledged that the “political side of it has been tricky,” but “national interest comes first.”

“We need to find those new sources of fuel. But that applies not only to fuel, it applies to things like feed, fertilizer, other inputs that are just critical for us,” Marcos said.

The Philippine economy has been hit hard by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has caused inflation to soar in and out of the country that largely depends on imports.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has been hawkishly addressing inflation by raising interest rates, which has so far risen by 225 basis points to 4.25% this year.

Marcos’ quest to strike a fuel deal with Russia may draw condemnation from Western nations, particularly the Philippines’ oldest treaty ally, the US, which has been at the forefront of actions to isolate Moscow.

His remarks also contrast with the Philippines’ official stance of condemning Russia’s invasion. Philstar.com has reached out to Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles for further comments.

Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Marat Pavlov said after his courtesy call with then President-elect Marcos that his country is willing to work with and help the Philippines find other sources of fuel in the face of rising oil prices.

In a chance interview on March 1, as reported by GMA News, Marcos said he does not think "there is a need to make a stand" on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He added: "We are not involved… except for our nationals."

On the same day, the Philippines joined a resolution at the UN General Assembly condemning the invasion.

Marcos shortly changed his tune in a statement released through his team as he appealed for sobriety and a peaceful resolution to the armed conflict.

"I support the unconditional observance of human rights and fervently hope that there will be no more targeting of civilian communities and civilian establishments," Marcos said in a statement on March 4. — Xave Gregorio with reports from Kaycee Valmonte

FERDINAND MARCOS JR.

RUSSIA

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