President Rodrigo Duterte had a last-minute meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow Kremlin late evening of May 23, Tuesday, hours before his emergency flight back to the Philippines.
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told reporters there was no bullying and the context of frank talks last week in China - the details of which he said he could not discuss -"was on how to avoid conflict" and "how to increase trust and mutual respect".
Since taking office in June, Duterte has reached out to China and Russian Federation in a dramatic shift in foreign policy for the Philippines, a USA treaty ally.
Putin said he understands the situation in the Philippines, and the need for Duterte to return to the country. He also referred to the United States ambassador to the Philippines at the time using the same epithet.
Duterte said continuing sporadic skirmishes showed the group's "capability to sow terror and unleash harassment and inflict destruction" across the country's south. In an interview with Moscow-based TV network Russia Today, President Duterte said that though he has nothing against the US, the Philippines needs a foreign policy that is independent of American interests: "I have nothing against America, [US President Donald] Trump is my friend".
An worldwide tribunal ruled in July past year that China's claims to most of the sea were without legal basis, in a case filed by the Philippines under Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino.
Cayetano said he will stay behind in Moscow to witness the signing of deals, most of which are related to defense, security, legal assistance, trade and investment, and peaceful use of nuclear energy and culture.
The military said it was optimistic they could end the conflict sooner rather than later.
Duterte claims there are 3 to 4 million drug users in the country, but statistics from the Philippines Dangerous Drugs Board puts the figure at 1.8 million.
The visit to Moscow and St. Petersburg marks the first time Duterte will visit Russia and his administration hopes it will "mark a new chapter in Philippine-Russia relations", she added.
Philippines police said in December almost 6,000 had been killed in the war on drug trafficking, but earlier this month authorities released a much lower death toll and accused the worldwide media of exaggerating the figure.
"We're just telling them very respectfully: we believe in our independence". "If you fight us, you will die". You are welcome here. "We will fight you".
"The conversation was very frank. Now we can work together to open those doors even wider", he said.
China's President Xi Jinping was not trying to bully the Philippines at a recent meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, according to the Southeast Asian nation's top diplomat.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the title of Maria Natividad.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial, Presidential Communications Office Secretary Jose Ruperto Martin Andanar, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence Go, and Senator Sherwin Gatchalian are also part of the official delegation here.