President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (MNS Photo)

MANILA, Mar 18 (Mabuhay) — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte reiterated Thursday that the Philippines would remain neutral in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

In a speech delivered in Palo, Leyte, Duterte refused to take sides, saying he would rather not meddle in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Itong neutrality na ‘to (This neutrality), we just maintain it,” Duterte said during the inauguration of the new Leyte Provincial Capitol and the turnover of various government projects in Eastern Visayas.

Duterte issued the statement, as he stressed that the country would not pick a fight with any nations.

“Hindi natin away iyan, huwag tayong makialam (That’s not our fight. Let’s not interfere),” he said.

He, however, raised worry over the possible impact of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine on the entire world, in case it gets worse and escalates into a nuclear war.

“If it goes nuclear, that’s the end of the world. Tapos na talaga lahat (It’s really the end of everything),” Duterte said.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the United Nations’ (UN) top court for disputes between states, has ordered Russia to immediately cease military actions in Ukraine, saying it is “profoundly concerned” by Moscow’s use of force.

Ukraine filed a suit against Russia before the ICJ in February to institute proceedings against Moscow’s invasion.

Duterte admitted that the current situation of Russian President Vladimir Putin is “hurting” him since he considered the latter as his “friend.”

“Ako diyan sa Russia, nasasakitan ako. Kaibigan ko si Putin eh (I’m hurt because Putin is my friend). He’s a personal friend,” he said.

During the inauguration of the Narvacan Farmers’ Market in Ilocos Sur on March 4, Duterte said the Philippines has to stay neutral until “reality” pushes the country to “select which side we would be.”

Duterte also acknowledged that Putin is now a “suicidal” leader. (MNS)

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