• Five reasons why Duterte should stop swearing at the EU

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    RACHEL A.G. REYES

    IN this time of Brexit and the ranting of right-wingers in both Europe and North America who clamor for a chance to take pot shots at the European Union, President Rodrigo Duterte’s own tirades against the EU may not sound too unusual. “Tell them the mayor says you are a f*****g s**t,” he said recently before a local audience, who laughed and clapped approvingly. But while it might seem Duterte is riding on a populist wave in deriding the EU, and standing up for Philippine sovereignty, he is actually doing the country a massive disservice.

    First, our President doesn’t seem to want to go beyond a perception of the EU as merely an institution made up of meddling, pen-pushing, colonial-minded bureaucrats. The depiction might be politically expedient and get a few laughs, but it is utterly ignorant and foolish to think of the EU—which as a bloc has the power to shape globalization—in those terms. Composed of 28 member states, the EU, as former US President Barack Obama once described it, is “home to more than 500 million people speaking 24 languages in 28 countries, 19 with a common currency” and remains “one of the greatest political achievements.” Duterte should understand some basic facts about the EU: that it accounts for 7 percent of the world’s population, 23 percent of global GDP, 50 percent of global public spending, and strives to act as a bulwark against political extremism.

    Second, Duterte doesn’t seem to have given a thought to the hundreds of thousands of Filipino overseas workers and immigrants who have made their home in the EU, have married Europeans and are raising families with them, and regularly remit billions of dollars to the Philippines. In Italy, there are between 100,000 to 200,000 Filipinos, in France almost 100,000, including undocumented estimates, and about 300,000 in the UK. Europe is in fact the second largest source of remittances to the country. Bluntly put, it is money from Europe keeping so many communities—the populations of towns and villages—at home alive.

    Third, the EU spends 111 million euros ($118 million) on supporting health programs in the Philippines that have included sexual and reproductive health care for indigenous people in Mindanao, dental care for tens of thousands of school-aged children, and technical assistance in setting up voluntary drug rehabilitation services and outpatient clinics. Regarding the latter, Franz Jessen, EU Ambassador to the Philippines painstakingly explained: “The outpatient clinics are specialty treatment services, scheduled to be located in hospital compounds or close to health care facilities. The recovery homes are small residential facilities providing care to about 25 to maximum 50 people, who need more intensive care in addition to the treatment provided through outpatient clinics.” Duterte has rubbished this explanation and instead outlandishly claims that the clinics will dispense shabu and cocaine to anyone that asks.

    Fourth, the EU has pumped 35 million euros ($37.3 million) worth of investments in the Philippines. It is also an important trading partner that permits duty-free or reduced-tariff export of thousands of selected Philippine products to the EU market, privileges which annually earn the country hundreds of millions of euros. So, when the EU thinks that the Philippines is no longer complying with international agreements, especially those concerning the rule of law, civil liberties, and good governance, and considering withholding trade privileges and incentives, Duterte would do well to take serious notice.

    Commemorating its 60th anniversary last month, the EU reiterated its identity on the world stage as being “a community of peace, freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, a major economic power with unparalleled levels of protection and social welfare.” This may sound abstract and lofty, but the fact is most of Europe does have a healthy respect for liberal values, fundamental rights, and pluralism. Filipinos in Europe by and large live decently alongside Europeans in prosperity, stability, and safety, thanks to EU values and laws.

    Fifth, Duterte’s use of fetid language is impulsive, crude, abrasive, offensive, and downright hateful and nasty. His references to history are distorted at best, and he has an alarming disregard for the facts and truth. His propensity to fall back on invective and insult is serving as a distraction from, if not an evasion of, any real discussion of the government’s foreign and domestic policies. The horror of this vindictive, bloodthirsty, authoritarian-inclined presidency lies in its ability to turn the extremely unacceptable into the new normal.

    rachelagreyes@gmail.com

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    8 Comments

    1. Screw your liberal political correctness, bravo for Duterte for emulating the Prussian Iron Chancellor who said…

      “…with a gentleman I am gentleman and a half, and with a fraud I try to be a fraud and a half” – Otto Von Bismarck.

      That’s to quote a European, so down with EU’s fraudulent political correctness, fake! fake! fake!

    2. Nice informative piece Madam. Small PH should not belittle EU’s bigness. But here our Punisher President curses even big America and the EU in defiance of his EJKs to solve the drug problem, the deadly solution even magnified by our VP Leni right at EU’s doorstep. Whatever the negative effects of our leaders’ irking of global powers like the EU, we the masa are always the first social strata to be hit just like in Dutarte’s bloody drug eradication campaign.

    3. Excellent article Ms. Reyes. Unfortunately judging from some of the readers’ comments, they are unable to appreciate the logic of your arguments or they are merely Duterte sycophants who will mouth any insults or rubbish to defend their idol. These readers fail to recognize that by their less than objective support of Duterte they are contributing to the problems of the Ph8lippines. Please wake up dear readers. You can support Duterte when he does good or when his policies work. But please do not support what is bad. Do you sycophants realize that by, for example, encouraging Duterte’s use of foul language, you are lowering the image of the country in the eyes of other countries?

    4. We are really a lost nation. Filipinos clapping at bad mouth Duterte. We do not know which is right or wrong. A nation if addicts, drug pushers and adulterers. I am ashamed to be. Filipino.

    5. jess nazario on

      Your five reasons can never equal the millions of economic losses the EU meddling is causing the nation.

    6. Jose Samilin on

      So you think without Du30’s tirades the damage will not happen? That is because you miss the target. Your commentary is not an objective truth. You blind eyes, of course, don’t see the uncalled for reporting of VP Robredo and fake media reports. So, you’re nothing, ZERO!!

    7. The people of the Philippines are going to remain asleep and support every stupid insult against any other government that expresses concern of the violations of due process occurring in the Philippines.

      They will wake up someday after the damage has been done to the economy. They will go thru the steps of denial, rage and finally hopefully at some point look at how they became a isolated rogue country.

      The PnP are denying that any EJK have happened,
      The president has promised to pardon the police who the NBI has stated murdered Espinosa and Yap in their cells. The president has also stated that he would not allow the them to go to prison.

      Maybe the people find it funny when the president cusses out the EU, Maybe they won’t find it as funny when the EU has had enough of what passes for foreign policy and politics in the Philippines.

    8. Can this writer answer if the Philippines has meddled in the politics of EU? if not, is it right to meddle in a country just so bcoz you are giving aid to its people? Did we asked them to come to our country to meddle in our affairs? This writer must have forgotten that before the EU was ever established, we are a country functioning and governed by its own people. If being meddled in our affairs is the purpose of EU coming here, then no thanks.