The 1987 Constitution is very clear: "The State shall pursue an independent foreign policy. In its relations with other states, the paramount consideration shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination."
And, we may perhaps add, our relations with other states should also be based on mutual benefit and mutual advantage.
The Duterte administration is on the right track in reiterating that we should pursue an independent foreign policy, as what our Constitution clearly provides. Previous administrations since 1986, after all, had pursued a foreign policy based largely on our longstanding ties with the United States and its allies in Western Europe, so that we depended, for instance, largely on US military assistance, much of it hand-me-downs.
What Duterte's foreign policy stance since last year has been to enhance existing relations with two other powerful states, China and Russia, even as we maintain warm ties with Wshington.
Our relations with Moscow have been greatly strengthened by Duterte's official visit there in May this year. That visit, though very brief because he had to go home to deal with the Marawi conflict, nevertheless produced salutary results, not only in terms of trade and investments, but also military assistance.
Last week, in Duterte's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, Putin said Russian companies wanted to invest in energy, particularly nuclear power generation, and are “very interested” in importing fish, fruit and other seafood from the Philippines while selling grain and meat to Filipinos.
In addition, Moscow has offered to build a light rail line in Baguio City and a repair facility for Russian ships. Russia is also keen on selling civilian aircraft, helicopters, and at least 10 high-speed boats to the country, and to train Filipino troops.
All this is welcome news, and augurs well for our bilateral ties with Russia in the years ahead.