Alvarez allays fears over new foreign policy
TOKYO—No country needs to worry about President Duterte’s new foreign policy as long as they have no bad intention toward the Philippines, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said on Tuesday.
Alvarez defended Mr. Duterte’s pronouncements, including those on military and economic “separation” from the United States, that have reportedly caused confusion and distress in the international community.
Mr Duterte is also seeking warmer relations with China.
Alvarez said the Philippines had become used to being subservient to the United States, its longtime ally with which it has a Mutual Defense Treaty.
But Mr. Duterte is taking a different tack and is being more assertive when it comes to defending and pursuing his country’s interests.
“Pursuing an independent foreign policy is good for us. We’re so used to being independent and subservient to what the US wants,” Alvarez told reporters in Tokyo.
“The problem is this. We’re very careful in not saying anything against the US. That’s our culture. I think we have to change that. We have to be frank in pursuing our own national interest,” the Speaker added.
As to whether the United States needed to be concerned about the new Duterte administration policy, Alvarez said: “There is nothing to worry about as long as you do not have any bad intentions with any country.”
He said Japan, an ally of the United States, should not worry about Mr. Duterte moving away from Washington and establishing better ties with Beijing.
“We are all neighbors in Asia. We should befriend our neighbors and we should bond together as Asians,” he said.
The Philippines wants to maintain diplomatic ties with all countries in the world, Alvarez said.
Asked about Mr. Duterte’s hostile comments about the United States, he said this “depends on the interpretation of the listeners.”
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