President Duterte of the Philippines is a law unto himself. He is a strong willed man who practices what he believes. Duterte for long has felt that overdependence on the US has been to the detriment of the Philippines and after coming to power has charted a fresh course in the foreign policy of the Philippines. This includes making overtures to China and Russia and also loosening the strings with the US.

Duterte has been particularly incensed that despite an alliance with the US, the latter did nothing to stop the Chinese encroachments in the South China Sea.

He has a point when he asks as to why the US did not send five aircraft carriers to the South China Sea and nip the Chinese occupation and subsequent build up in the bud. He has now opened out to the Russians who he claims " are with him."

Recently the Russian Guided Missile destroyer visited the Philippines, and the president boarded the ship at the invitation of the Russian commander Captain Alexei Ulyanenko. This is part of the president's policy to try and have an independent foreign policy that is not tied to the US. CNN has reported this news.

Onboard Russian warships

The president boarded the Russian warship and was suitably impressed. Earlier also in January, the president had boarded the Russian destroyer Admiral Tributs.

The Russian warships are now on a goodwill visit to the Philippines. In contrast to Duterte's visits to the Russian ships, the president sent only three officials to visit the US carrier, Carl Vinson, when it docked in the Philippines. He avoided visiting the ship.

Duterte to visit Moscow

President Duterte is also slated to visit Moscow next month when a number of agreements are likely to be signed.

The Philippines will not do not have a formal military alliance, but they are likely to ask for modern military hardware from Russia. On the anvil are drones, Night-vision gear, sniper rifles and even helicopters. Duterte is the first Philippine President to chart an independent foreign policy. America would be alarmed, but the Philippine president won't scrap the defense pact with the US.

He will explore independent options as he has a problem on his hands with China claiming almost the entire South China Sea.

Future

President Donald is aware of the scenario. The US has also toned down its rhetoric on the Chinese military buildup on the Spratly islands, and Duterte has noted this. He has thus decided on an independent policy that is not tied to the US apron strings.

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