President Duterte: PH independent foreign policy benefits country

DAVAO CITY – President Rodrigo Duterte says his administration’s independent foreign policy is starting to bear fruit with financial assistance coming from China and Philippine agricultural products entering the Chinese market.

In a speech Friday, May 19, during the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary’s (PCGA) 33rd National Convention at SMX Convention Center in Davao City, the President responded to criticisms that he put aside the international tribunal’s arbitration decision in the country’s territorial dispute with China.

“I’ve been all around Asia particularly about the ASEAN countries and China. At huwag ho kayong maniwala na for example, Ramon del Rosario and itong si Justice Carpio na mahina ang dating ko, na hindi ko ginawa ‘yung arbitral award as a leverage,” he said.

The President said he is handling the issue cautiously to avoid conflict with China and to improve relations with the Asian giant.

China is offering better relations with the Philippines and that the dispute will be discussed sometime in the future because there are other claimant states in the South China Sea, the President said.

President Duterte also said that Chinese grants amounting to billions started to come in and tropical fruits from the Philippines now enter the Chinese market.

“Ang ating banana exports is already in parity with last year’s figures. Halos tabla na. Pineapple, well there’s a slack because there was also a stoppage of the planting. Because nobody was buying,” he said.

China is also offering to build two bridges across the Pasig River to ease the traffic condition in Manila, according to the President.

“So ngayon, next month… nag-donate sila ng dalawang bridge to traverse Pasig River. We’re going to start it this year,” the President said.

President Duterte also reiterated his tough stance against illegal drugs vowing to continue the ongoing anti-illegal drugs campaign in the country.

The PCGA is a civilian organization formed to assist the PCG in the promotion of safety and property protection at sea, the preservation of its marine environment and its resources, and the conduct of maritime search and rescue.

Among PCGA’s projects include mangrove planting, coastal clean ups, and deployment of reef enhancement structures.

The cornerstone of PCGA’s program is the formation of coastal community auxiliary divisions aimed at minimizing casualties during sea mishaps and preparing communities to become first responders during disasters.

The convention has a theme, “PCGA in the Millennium: Reliable, Relevant and Important.”###PND