Exploring the bigger (non-US) marketplace

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President Rodrigo Duterte’s “independent” foreign policy has been off to a slam-bang start, apparently rubbing it in on its major ally, the world’s only remaining superpower, the United States.

On Wednesday, he announced that the Philippines is considering buying military equipment from China and Russia, ostensibly to improve the country’s capability to address insurgency and terrorism.

The announcement came on the heels of the President’s statement that he wanted US troops pulled out of Mindanao, citing the constitutional prohibition on physical presence of foreign armed forces on Philippine soil.

Both of his moves were taken right after he introduced himself to the world last week at an Asean summit in Vientiane, where he was reported to have harangued US President Barack Obama for his purported plan to discuss with him at a supposed meeting the issue of alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines under his administration.

The planned purchase of guns and other materiel made in China and Russia is “in the pipeline” and, according to the Philippine President himself, “offers are coming in.”

The disclosures must have taken Obama aback, the US having been the traditional source of firearms and
other weapons of war since the Philippines won independence from its American colonizers in 1898.

What Washington has been giving the Philippines in the last 118 years, however, were hand-me-downs, ranging from refurbished guns to retrofitted boats that have proved largely ineffective against communist and Muslim insurgents and, lately, terrorist groups.

If the military aid had been potent and abundant enough, it would have probably obliterated by now the rebellions mounted by the New People’s Army (NPA), the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which have been waged for decades, costing thousands of lives and interrupting sustainable social and economic progress in the southern Philippines.

Failure of more recent administrations to even contain at manageable levels these Maoist and Islamic uprisings can be traced to inferior ammunition reportedly misfiring or jamming during clashes with NPA rebels, MNLF and MILF separatists and ASG jihadists.

Poised to put its money where its mouth is, the Duterte administration appears to be exploring politically designed options that past governments had not tried.

President Duterte said he was ready to pay good money for superior merchandise. He had also said he would take some military equipment offered free of charge.

According to him, the days of the lowest bid are over because settling for the cheapest is a wrong exercise in frugality that could have lethal consequences for soldiers in the battlefield.

China and Russia supposedly are reputable makers of guns and other equipment but these A-1 weapons of war are known to come at unbelievable prices.

Duterte, however, had indicated that money is no object where lasting peace in the land and security of his people are at stake.

Also appearing to further demonstrate a we-are-not-your-small-brown-brother stance, unmindful that it would ruffle American feathers, the President one-upped Obama by glossing over a maritime dispute between the Philippines and China over the South China Sea in his decision to buy guns Chinese and Russian.

With Russia, Duterte seemed not to have taken issue with what the United States dislikes about Moscow, from
its alleged annexation of Crimea to its own “extrajudicial killings” of journalists and other “dissidents.”

The Philippine President seems to be of the type who does not mix business and politics, but Beijing and Moscow may just drink to whatever deal he calls a toast for.

The US, meanwhile, may already have a hangover from the surprise jab thrown by Duterte before it is even able to lift the first glass.

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6 Comments

  1. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    17 September 2016

    If Der Fuhrer Rodrigo Duterte is to be consistent in his pronouncement that the US should pull out its forces from Mindanao because the Constitution does not allow foreign forces on Philippine soil, he should ask the CONGRESS to abrogate pronto the MUTUAL DEFENSE TREATY, the VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT, and the EDCA with the United States.

    He cannot “have his cake and eat it, too!”

    It is plain for all the world to see that his altercation with President Obama, who had planned to talk to him about his WARRANTLESS EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLING of those who he and his “Berdugo” [executioner” PNP chief General “Bato” Ronald dela Rosa SUSPECT as involved in the illegal Narco problem, is mainly responsible for his latest obviously knee-jerk and irresponsible anti-US statements.

    Now he says he will buy weapons from China and Russia!

    Does he realize that he is taking the Philippines out of the strategic orbit of the United States, and into the strategic embrace of China and Russia? I wonder if those Filipinos who blindly support him are fully aware of the serious political, economic and strategic consequences of this latest move of Duterte?

    Duterte is not well known for THINKING before he acts.. He is that impetuous!

    MARIANO PATALINJUG
    patalinjugmar@gmail.com

  2. Gaya ng sinabi ni Yasay, sana hindi na tayo tinatrato ng USA na isang “little brown brother” na tuwing mag tantrum ay lolipop lang ang katapat. The more our republic becomes weak, the better for US to control us, and that is the strategy.Gising na ang bansa pilipno sa pangunguna ni Pres. Digong. Mabuhay!!!

  3. Sino ang takot sa EMBARGO ng US?

    Kung matadaan natin ang bansang Iran sa pamumuno ng Shah, ay gumagamit ng sandatang pandigma galing sa US dahil kaalyado sila. Nang mapatalsik ang Shah at namuno si Khomeini, lahat ng embargo ginawa ng US at mga kalayado bansa niya. Marami sandatang pandigma lalo na ang fighter jets (F15) ay hindi nagamit dahil ayaw ng Amerika magbenta ng mga spare parts, sa madaling salita EMBARGO sa lahat ng bagay…

    Ang masakit sa Iran ay nagkaroon ng giyera at pinagtulungan ng karatig bansa dahil sa pahimasok ng US, gaya din ngayon sa nagyari sa Iraq, Libya, Syria, Palestine hangang Africa at sa bayan natin. Pati ang nuclear plant nila pinagbantaan ng US at kaalyado.Totoo, Iran lived like in hell… Mahirap pero buhay pa rin! Siguro kung kaalyado nila ang US sa panahon na iyon, they live like in heaven. Pinili nila ang kasarinlan (freedom). CUT TIES WITH AMERICA & ITS ALLIES!

    Ang punto ko, dapat maganda ang relasyon ng Pilipinas sa lahat ng bansa lalo ang US. Pero ang karapatan bumili ng sandata, lalo na ang mga baril di na paki-alaman nila. Alam ninyo ang AK ng Russia at FN ng Belgium ay mas epektibo kaysa M14 at M16 ng US.

    Dapat ang Pilipinas ay manindigan ng sarili at huwag umasa sa US, kaya ang relasyon natin sa lahat ng bansa sa mundo ay nasa HIGH LEVEL at EXCELLENT…

    Meron na tayong aral sa bansang Iran. Ulitin ko, siguro masarap ang buhay natin, PARAISO kung palagi tayo PINANGARALAN ng US pero mas gusto ko ang KASARINLAN/FREEDOM!

    Gising PILIPINAS!

    MABUHAY SI PRESIDENTE DUTERTE AT ANG PILIPINAS!

    • what a confusing article…Is the United States wrong for sending military equipment to the value of what was paid..or is the Philippines guilty of expecting more than what it was willing to pay for.
      Seems the writer of the article expects the US to do it a favor, but not treat it as a “small brother”.
      The Chines will give or sell willingly to the Phil military.. It means they will have ot bring in less military equipment if and when it comes to armed conflict and they easily overrun whatever island they next set their eyes on.
      Kick all nationals from UN abiding nations out of PHil then your new government can do as it wants without listening to talk about rights.
      the war on drugs and soon gambling…will turn neighbor against neighbor and brother against brother, and your new President will soon be a Marcos- like Dictator…

    • Duterte said China is the only country helping the Philippines

      The Chinese have already started building reeducation /rehab centers in the Philippines at Duterte’s request.

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