President Rodrigo Duterte will be visiting China and Japan this month, to be followed with a trip to Russia in a still undisclosed date.
The 3-nation visit comes as Duterte said he is opening windows for the Philippines for trade and commerce with other foreign countries.
Duterte made the announcement on Tuesday, October 11, in Malacanang, in a speech before members of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines.
The mission to China will come ahead of his October 25 to 27 visit to Japan, according to the President.
“China has repeatedly invited me. I have accepted the offer,” Duterte said.
Duterte is exploring closer ties with China and Russia, as he repeatedly lambasted the United States, the Philippines’ ally, following US criticism of his brutal campaign against illegal drugs.
The United Nations and the European Union have joined American fear that Extra-Judicial Killings (EJK) is at the core of Duterte’s war on drugs, which has claimed more than 3,300 lives.
Nearly a million users and pushers have already surrendered to authorities to pledge reform under the government’s ant-drug campaign dubbed “Tokhang.”
Duterte said the Philippines has 3 million drug users mostly addicted to shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) based on figures of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
Duterte’s war on drugs has been severely criticized worldwide including US President Barack Obama who voiced deep concern over human rights violations as unidentified gunmen terminate suspected drug pushers and users.
Obama’s comments drew a strong reaction from Duterte who branded the US President as a “son of a whore.”
Duterte accused that the US had committed human rights violations in other countries including the Philippines.
He said Mindanao’s Muslims’ seething present-day hatred for America traces its roots to the infamous “Bud Dajo Massacre,” where American occupation forces killed nearly a thousand Muslims in Jolo in Southern Philippines in 1906.
As he opens windows for bilateral trade with China and Russia, Duterte said he would put closure to the annual military exercise between US and Filipino troops warning that he might eventually scrap a mutual defense pact with the US.
The Philippines, long been regarded as one of Washington’s most loyal allies in Asia, has a mutual defense treaty with the US signed in 1951.
But Duterte said Russia and China expressed interest in selling military hardware if the Philippines breaks ties with the US.
He has now called the US as an “arrogant” ally and but has good words for Russia and China.
Duterte described Chinese leader Xi Jinping as “a great president”, and praised China and Russia for showing respect in not criticizing his crackdown on illegal drugs.