Duterte shaking hands with Putin (Image Source: http://en.kremlin.ru/)

Since the visit by two Russian warships to the Philippines last week, the media have been speculating military ties between these two countries. Philippines has always been close to the US. But the current Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has been known to have the desire to diversify its relationships away from its traditional ally.

Duterte, while on a tour of one of the two warships, said that he hoped Russia would become the Philippines’ ally and protector.

“We welcome our Russian friends. Anytime you want to dock here for anything, for play, for replenish supplies or maybe our ally to protect us,” said Duterte, as cited by Reuters, while shaking hands with Rear Admiral Eduard Mikhailov, deputy commander of Flotilla of Pacific Fleet of Russia.

Russia said it is looking forward to conducting military naval in the South China with the Philippines, Malaysia and China Sea in order to fight terrorism and piracy.

“The Philippine Navy needs some help, we will help. The problem here is terrorism and piracy. You have the task to fight this problem and we will show you what we can do,” said Mikhailov.

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, in an interview said that the Philippines is finalising a deal with Russia that may be signed during President Rodrigo’s Russia tour later this year.

The US and the Philippines, a former colony of the US, are bound by a mutual defense pact. However, Rodrigo has threatened several times to downgrade or even end the US-Philippine military alliance. He has even said that he wants all the US troops gone from the Philippines.

Duterte’s hostility towards the US was prompted by the US President Barack Obama’s criticism of Duterte’s brutal war against drug crime that has left thousands dead in the Philippines. And he has shown interest in forging new ties with China and Russia.