‘Duterte raking in cash for the Philippines’

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RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

NOT all American media coverage is fixated on EJKs, or on President Duterte’s bloody war against illegal drugs. The Washington Post—yes, the newspaper that brought down a US President, Richard Nixon, in the 1970s—chose to report instead on the bigger picture, in the following article on Duterte’s playing the superpowers to get billions of dollars (renminbi?) in development aid.

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Of course, you’ll have somebody like BS Aquino III’s so pro-American ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia belittling Duterte in the article and bad-mouthing China as if he’s the White House press secretary.

The article titled “Duterte finds ‘strategic sweet spot’” was reported as the Washington Post’s second front-page banner in its March 28, 2017 issue. Compare that to the front-paged but least important article in the New York Times March 22 that was a hatchet job on Duterte, but which the Philippine Daily Inquirer made as its screaming banner story. (See my recent column “New York Times takes over Philippine Daily Inquirer”.) But of course we have freedom of the press in this country.

The Washington Post article was headlined in the inside pages with, “Duterte’s volatile policies paying off”. The article in full:

Since his electoral triumph last summer, the man famous for cursing foreign leaders and calling for mass killing seems to be raking in the cash for the Philippines. A tidy $24 billion in deals with China.

Fresh billions from Japan. Not to mention the tens of millions in military and development aid the United States sends each year—despite his call for a “separation.”

Indeed, eight months into his tenure, with President Trump in power and Asian affairs in flux, Duterte’s devil-may-care diplomacy and relentless talk of “slaughter” seem to be paying off, propping up his domestic popularity even as an International Criminal Court prosecutor warns of a possible war-crimes investigation against him.

Will the PDI ever use this as their banner story, like they did NYT’s hatchet job on Duterte?

Courting the President of the Philippines are new friends such as China, which last week sent a vice premier to Duterte’s hometown, and Russia, which recently dispatched two warships to Manila on a goodwill visit. Both see Duterte as an ally against the US military’s Asian ambitions.

Old partners such as the United States and Japan might bristle at Duterte’s rhetoric and rights record, but they are willing to speak softly because they need his help countering Chinese claims to most of the South China Sea.

Duterte, meanwhile, seems happy to flirt with his various suitors, alternating between swearing and sweet talk, backtracking as required.

As a presidential candidate, the longtime mayor of Davao City promised Filipinos an “independent” foreign policy, vowing to stand up to the Americans and make money from everyone else. With deals and dignitaries streaming in, Duterte can credibly say he delivered — at least for now.

But much of the Philippines prefers the United States to China; Duterte may want to align himself with Beijing’s “ideological flow,” as he put it, but swaths of the country’s establishment do not.

Duterte’s defense secretary, Maj. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana, recently expressed concern about Chinese survey ships lingering in waters off the Philippine coast. Faced with questions from reporters, Duterte seemed confused; he eventually asserted that he would ask the military to tell Beijing to back off — but in a friendly way.

There is a growing sense that his foreign policy is a short-term fix, said Herman Kraft, a political scientist at the University of the Philippines. “We have a tiny window when we can still play both sides.”

Duterte has a flair for the dramatic, and his entrance to the foreign policy stage was nothing short of spectacular.

Casting insults at President Barack Obama, he made a show about finding new “best friends” in Moscow and Beijing — although his calls to curtail the decades-old US-Philippine military partnership were quickly played down by members of his own cabinet.

China, seeing an opportunity to curry favor with a key US ally, invited him to the Chinese capital, where he signed billions in deals. Duterte thanked his hosts by railing against the United States.

Not a month after his speech in Beijing, Donald Trump’s triumph had Duterte singing a different tune. The two countries could now stop feuding, he said — a turnaround that gave him room to quietly reach out to the United States.

While Trump prepared for his inauguration, a US ally stepped in. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid a visit. He toured Duterte’s home in the southern Philippines, reportedly admiring his bed and mosquito net, and announced $8.7 billion in aid.

Duterte’s diplomatic maneuvering allowed him to press ahead with state-led killings of alleged drug dealers and users while securing billions of dollars worth of deals. “Despite all his shenanigans, he hit a strategic sweet spot,” said Richard Javad Heydarian, an assistant professor of political science at Manila’s De La Salle University.

“But,” Heydarian added, “this may be a bit of strategic beginner’s luck. If he keeps at this for a few years, he will be seen as a flip-flopper.”

Filipino and foreign experts are skeptical about whether big promises from China and Russia will actually materialize and, if they do, whether the money will keep coming.

China will eventually make a move in the South China Sea that Filipinos find unpalatable, said Jose L. Cuisia Jr., who, until June, was the Philippine ambassador to the United States. When that happens, it will be hard for Duterte to do as China pleases, and those Chinese pledges could dry up, Cuisia said.

“I am not sure that we will see a strong relationship with China and Russia in the long term,” he said.

For now, Duterte seems likely to woo as many allies and investors as possible, said Aileen S.P. Baviera, a China expert at the University of the Philippines’ Asian Center.

“Because of Trump, most countries want to hedge their bets and remain as flexible as possible,” she said. “And right now, China looks like a more stable partner than the US.”

Email: tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao
Twitter: @bobitiglao

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27 Comments

  1. These are very good loans from China and Japan because they are cheap and have no or few strings attached. The country can never get this amount of money from any other source like the US, EU, WB,ADB, etc., which comes in trickles and have lots of conditions that are hard for a third world country to meet. This loan from China and Japan can leapfrog the country’s GDP in a few years and improve the lives of every optimistic and hard working citizens. Now, there is nothing wrong for a country to have debts, as long as it is invested for the economy. It is the secret of the first world nations. Countries such as US, UK and Japan are brimming with debt and yet there people enjoy better lives.

  2. A government loan from China? Seriously are you fools guys? I guess you never learn at all. Remember who is the no 1 supplier of Shabu in the world. China. Remember what the Chinese did to us in Mischief in 1995 , 2012 in Panatag , 2014 in Ayungin & Benham Rise 2017? If you guys dont have a clue & doesnt know how to take a hint & this country is hopeless inhabited by fools.

  3. Raking in cash for the Philippines? Seriously sir? Its a government loan which means you have to pay in the future plus interest its not for free.. For all people obtain from China? China is notorious for using debt trap diplomacy….. If we fail to pay for our loans China may take our ports , WPS even resources as payment. That is not a speculation China is already doing that to loaned countries right now.

  4. Mario Santos on

    USA has a bias media coverage/reporting. Most media do not verify their stories, sadly most Philippine media follow the unprofessional media reporting. Philippine media celebrate news station/news caster who reports “Daw” and “Raw” and they get award for best television news station and news casters.
    USA media reporting is bias compared to Philippine media, the Philippines media is in the sewage drain.
    What happened to Philippine media?

    • they wont care what you think… the more you get angry….. the more money inside envelopes are put into the pockets of those reporters and writers

  5. Let all them all forecast the future – it is their right to freedom of speech. Up to now, some still not believe that CHANGE is already here. With regards to Economic boom – disregarding of course some agreements and deals that we suffer until today, FVR did it then ERAP want development that MASA can feel he back ttrack. Then GMA an economist started again, then Pnoy take advantage of what GMA Leave – modifying of course to take it as his own ( it help also that he portray his administration crime busters especially for corrupt officials) a lot of improvement year after year but most Filipinos did not feel it, not now with the current administration where in the President himself visited them here and abroad. I just hope we always give chance to our country.

  6. why does cuisa another aquino barking dog is so worried what lies ahead.any body who is in duterte’s position can only do as much….wait for the people that gave him the pledge…what i can see here is naiingit lang kayo kasi you wish kayo ang pogi hindi ang isang tinatawag ninyong psychopath murderer bastos ang bunganga…naiinsulto kayo na kayong dapat mga pogi dahil kayo ang may pera eh kayo ang pinakapangit ngayon.

    • A pledge is nothing but a pledge! Don’t count the money until it is in your bank account. In addition, there is no free money in this world. Any pledge of money comes with strings and restrictions attached.

  7. Thank you Sir, for this article, very informative unlike the mainstream media who seems to be “selective” in the information they want to tell the Filipino people.

    With your permission Im going to quote and link your article in our site.

    More Power to you, Sir.

  8. “Duterte, meanwhile, seems happy to flirt with his various suitors, alternating between swearing and sweet talk, backtracking as required.”

    “Duterte’s defense secretary, Maj. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana, recently expressed concern about Chinese survey ships lingering in waters off the Philippine coast. Faced with questions from reporters, Duterte seemed confused; he eventually asserted that he would ask the military to tell Beijing to back off — but in a friendly way.”

    I don’t know these two paragraphs are positive new for Du30.

    • That’s the game G. Franco played to confuse Hitler not to drag Spain into the war. A stroke of genius.

    • Have you study the parameters of treason? If not then your just an empty can makes the most noise.

  9. Sarah Musker on

    I disagree Duterte is not a flip flop hen it comes to what is right and fair. He will act what is in the interests of the nation. That is the constant thing by him. He may change tactics but on the whole the final destination is the same. Unlike previous leaders he is not out to personally benefit from the position he is in.

  10. Thank you Mr. R. Tiglao for writing this article. It is refreshing to the mind and confidence. My hopes is that President Duterte will do what Generalisimo Franco did before or even better.

    There is parallelism between President Duterte and Generalisimo Franco as I said before. In the past, Franco was worrying about the Axis vs the Allied; how he would make Spain escape WWII. Now, it’s Duterte about China vs America.

    I hope the Yellows will stop annoying Duterte. The burden on Duterte’s shoulder is humongous as what Franco had experienced before. History smiled at Franco and he was able to save millions of Spaniards excape death in WWII. Let President Duterte focus and concentrate on his primary job.

    In the campaigning period, it was only Duterte saw this vision and spoke about this is coming on how the Philippines will be in the middle of controversy between China and America. Today, Duterte is not surprised at all of what is now happening and I hope he will pass through path where Franco had gone before. Yellows, it’s not an easy task.

    Yellows, if you want to help, write down the possible solutions and send it to Malacañang in secret and you just don’t criticize him in public. You don’t want the real enemies of the state know our next move, do you?

    • Why send the solutions secret? What is so wrong about discussing national issues public? Is Duterte so weak he cannot stand feedbacks from the public?

  11. I can easily dismiss Cuisia as another Yellow Apologist but then again, he is more pro-US than pro-Yellow. His worldview is shaped by his long years working at AIG, an American financial multinational.

  12. The billion-dollar pledge of Intsik to Phils is nothing but the present-day Trojan Horse. It’s just a matter of time for the Intsik to applyits coup de grace on our territory…and gov’t.

    • Worse case scenario It would be better for the Philippines to be annexed by China and GIVING US Filipinos a comfortable life than being ruled by the yellow OLIGARCHS who did nothing but to enrich themselves.

  13. Jose A. Oliveros on

    “Will the PDI ever use this as their banner story, like they did NYT’s hatchet job on Duterte?” No and never. But the Philippine Daily Inquirer will use as its banner headline even the most insignificant story that portrays Pres. Duterte as the devil incarnate. That is the “balance news, fearless views” that the Inquirer is famous for.