Despite Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s openly Chinese-centered foreign policy during his 6-year term, threatening to cancel the Visiting Forces Agreement in 2020 then reinstating said agreement a year later, he has now pledged that the Philippines will help the United States and its allies in the fight against Russia as it was willing to let the US Armed Forces use Philippine bases in the case that the fighting spills over to Asia.

It can be remembered that Duterte, who is classified as a ‘strongman’ in political science terminology, has been allied with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping throughout his term. During a state visit to Beijing in 2016, the then-newly inducted President stated, “I announce my separation from the US,” in an apparent attempt to court Chinese investments.

To jog your memory, this was the Philippine President who called former US President Barack Obama a “son of a whore” then later backed off the United States saying, “I do not want to quarrel with him. He’s the most powerful president of any country on the planet,” in reference to the military capabilities and political influence of the US.

These courtships apparently “worked.” There were 14 Chinese-funded infrastructure projects in the Philippines worth about some $24 billion in investments ever since the start of the Duterte term. Being two months away from the Philippine national elections, most of these infrastructure projects have not been started, and its loans from the Chinese were reportedly taken out at a much higher interest rate. Furthermore, the Chinese influence on the President had been so strong in recent years that Duterte had virtually given some disputed islands to China without a fight. The Philippine President had repeatedly stated that they did not have the naval capacity to challenge China. However, most of the president’s critics had seen these moves as a way to appease Xi to encourage more Chinese investments in the Philippines.