Whether or not President Rodrigo Duterte finds time to visit the Incas’ ancient city of Machu Picchu in Peru, he is assured of a warm embrace not only from his hosts but especially from Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Lima. The President was promised such a treat by the urbane and articulate Igor Khovaev, the Russian ambassador to the Philippines. DU30 has publicly praised Putin as one of his role models, while railing against the outgoing US President. There are many things he could learn from Putin.
In September, DU30 met with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev at the Asean summit in Vientiane, Laos. This was before he visited China. Since then he has announced “separating” his government militarily and economically from the US, and aligning it with China and Russia, “against the world.” Since then billionaire businessman Donald Trump has been elected US President in a stunning upset which caught even some of his own supporters by surprise. DU30’s spontaneous expression of support for Trump may have diluted his threatened pivot away from the US, but it is not likely to affect the robust ties he wants to pursue with China and Russia.
DU30 thinks in terms of personalities
Or more specifically with the leaders of these two countries, Presidents Xi Jinping and Putin. DU30 tends to think in terms of personalities rather than institutions or governments, as we see in his dealings with Obama on the one hand, and with Trump on the other. He was ready to junk his country’s historic ties with the US because he resented Obama’s interest in the summary killings of local drug suspects, but he believes he shares certain qualities with Trump, so he was quick to welcome his incredible win and declare that he looks forward to working closely with his Republican administration.
He even took the unusual step of naming Trump’s property development partner in the Philippines, without any government or diplomatic experience, as a “special envoy” to Washington, a few days after he had named a public relations practitioner who has been servicing the US Embassy in Manila, also without any government or diplomatic experience, as his special envoy. So he now has two special envoys to Washington, while the post of Philippine ambassador to the US remains vacant.
He had earlier announced retired ambassador Marciano Paynor Jr. as his ambassador to the US without submitting his name to the US government and to the Commission on Appointments, as required respectively by diplomatic practice and by the Constitution; the latest scuttlebutt is that Paynor would be asked to take charge of preparations for Manila’s hosting of the APEC summit next year.
DU30 is visibly attracted to Putin’s image and reputation as a decisive leader. He is said to have outplayed Obama in Syria and Turkey, and kept the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization at bay in the Ukraine. But some critics have serious misgivings about the things DU30 could get from Putin, aside from military weapons and equipment.
Russian military acquisitions
DU30 has already ordered some military helicopters from Russia and is said to be planning to acquire AK-47 Kalashnikov rifles and pistols for the use of the proposed “Philippine Constabulary,” where he intends to put former communist and Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels as the “equivalent of Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard,” as one government source puts it. Depending on the government’s needs and resources, the arms deals could eventually include Sukhois, which China, Indonesia and other countries are also buying, warships and submarines, the source said.
This seems too far advanced, in my view. Since we are not engaged in any arms race, and we hardly have enough resources for our infrastructure and energy development, I believe DU30 should concentrate on areas that would allow Russia and the Philippines to help each other economically while developing their respective capabilities.
One foreign-trained development economist suggests that DU30 try to convince Putin to allow the Philippines to use its own currency, the peso, instead of the international dollar, in trading with Russia. For instance, it could purchase Russian oil with the peso, and and Russia, in turn, could use the peso to buy Philippine goods. This would completely energize trade, tourism and investments between the two countries.
What DU30 can learn from Putin
In the seventies, during the martial law era and at the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union tried to push for an air agreement that would allow Aeroflot to fly to Manila and the Philippine flagcarrier to fly to Moscow. This failed to prosper because of security reasons. At one time, a visiting Soviet deputy foreign minister tried to convince Marcos to instruct the Secretary of National Defense, who was then in charge of the matter, to authorize Aeroflot to have regular flights to the Philippines. It would make the two countries much closer to each other, the minister said. “We are close enough,” Marcos politely replied.
If that serious security concern no longer exists–a coalition with the communists is now in progress, perhaps the two leaders could begin to talk about ways and means of exchanging direct flights and increasing two-way tourism between Manila and Moscow. Beyond the normal area of trade, investment and scientific exchanges, I would seriously propose that DU30 take a very close look at and learn from Russia’s struggle to strengthen the country’s family life and its demographic fabric. Russia is perhaps the only country in the world where the entire society–meaning the people and their government–is involved in trying to arrest and reverse the “demographic winter” that now plagues all of Europe.
While DU30 has one mindless economic planner who would like to impose a three-children per family limit to natural procreation, Russia is trying to promote large families as the future of the country and all humanity. The biggest country in the world in terms of territory (17,075,400 square kilometers), Russia has been losing some 250,000 people every year from its negative population growth, and cannot afford to see global depopulation get any worse.
In 1991, while the global population controllers were trying to reduce the size of national populations and of the entire planet by imposing a maximum of two children per family, following Henry Kissinger’s National Security Study Memorandum 200, Russia was doing everything to make sure that by 2000, it would have at least 600 million people, in order to propel its climb to becoming a world power again. But it failed. The population could ony reach 140 million. In 2013, for the first time in years, the birth rate rose from 1.3 to 1.7–still below the replacement level of 2.1.
Russia recognized this as its gravest and the world’s gravest crisis, and its response was for the whole society to try to promote the defense of the family, marriage and human life in all human activities. In 2011, I was invited to speak to the Global Demographic Summit in Moscow, which called on the United Nations and foreign governments to stop their efforts to curb the growth of the family around the world. In 2012, together with the American pro-family and pro-life worker Janice Crowse, I helped launch the National Parents Association of Russia in Moscow. It was freezing cold, but there was an impressive turnout.
In October that same year, I was invited by the group headed by Railways Minister Vladimir Yakunin to be one of the plenary speakers at the Dialogue of Civilizations on Rhode Island, Greece. There I spoke of the family as the civilizational unit whose rise was more important for humanity than the “rise of the East” or the “rise of the rest.”
In September 2014, I was asked to sit on the Advisory Committee and be one of the keynote speakers at the conference on “The Large Family and the Future of Humanity” at the Kremlin and the Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The committee was chaired by Patriarch Hilarion of the Moscow Patriarchate, while the panel of speakers was led by Holy Patriarch Kiril of Moscow and all of Russia, and included the chief rabbi of Russia, and (through video conference call) Archbishop Vicenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, in Rome. Other speakers came from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, France, Poland, Mexico, Venezuela, Australia, Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Serbia and others.
We approved a two-page declaration which called on the UN, the UN Secretary General and the UN Supreme Commissioner for Human Rights “to ensure utmost protection for the family in all its dimensions.” “No political or economic interest can serve as a pretext for replacing the true and time-tested concept of family by any kind of surrogate,” the declaration said, among other things.
Speaking to the assembly, the Ukrainian delegate said: “We have made serious mistakes against the family and human life. Do not repeat them.”
For my part, I said that “what you have organized here is not simply a conference, but the launch of a global moral revolution to change the course of our fallen and misdirected humanity.” This statement did not endear me to some of my American friends at the time, but when they learned that Hillary Clinton was determined to make abortion a priority program of her administration overseas, they saw my point, and started looking at Moscow as the source of hope for mankind.
In October of that year, I was supposed to speak to another family conference in South Russia, where one of the topics was, “Raising boys to become men.” Russia, under Putin, is trying to become a country where men are men, and women, women.
I could not go to that conference because Pope Francis’s “Humanum” colloquium at the Vatican, on the complementarity of man and woman, intervened. Humanum was attended by some 400 religious leaders and scholars from various parts of the world. I do not know how my wife and I got there, but we were the only couple from our part of the world that was there. Every religion was represented.
Whether in this thoroughly religious Vatican setting or in the completely secular setting at the Kremlin, the sanctity of human and family life and marriage stood out as the value aching to be grasped by the leaders of nations and of all mankind. This is also what seems to drive the high expectations of American Christians about the incoming Trump presidency, despite the man’s known inadequacies and frailties.
If DU30 decides to engage Putin’s (and Trump’s) moral revolution, I am sure he would learn something new which his predominantly Catholic constituents would welcome with grateful hearts, despite any previous skepticism. It should persuade him instantly to stop listening to the nonsense that his Secretary Hernia is trying to cram into his busy brain and begin thinking in terms of the eternal verities and values that truly define the meaning, vocation, and destiny of the human person.