Growing tensions between PH, US seen

ASEAN DEBUT President Rodrigo Duterte (right) attends the plenary session of the opening ceremony of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in Vientiane on Tuesday. AFP PHOTO BY ROSLAN RAHMAN

ASEAN DEBUT President Rodrigo Duterte (right) attends the plenary session of the opening ceremony of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in Vientiane on Tuesday. AFP PHOTO BY ROSLAN RAHMAN

THE CANCELLATION of President Rodrigo Duterte’s meeting with US President Barack Obama is likely to raise tensions between the Philippines and US at a time Manila needs the support of allies against China’s military buildup at the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), analysts said on Tuesday.

Political analyst Ramon Casiple said Duterte’s latest outburst against the US and Obama would likely prompt Washington to review its relations with the Philippine leader.

“Obviously the meeting was postponed because of the statement of the President. He insulted another leader that is why he (Duterte) was cut off,” Casiple said in an interview.

Prof. Richard Javad Heydarian of De La Salle University’s political science department described the cancellation of the planned meeting as a “diplomatic snub.”

“Obama’s diplomatic snub clearly shows growing tensions in Philippine-US bilateral relations,” he told The Manila Times.

But the “fundamentals of bilateral security and economic relations are expected to continue,” he said.

‘Wasted opportunity’
For former Philippine ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia Jr., the scrapped meeting was a “wasted opportunity” for Duterte, who could have discussed important issues with Obama apart from Washington’s concern over the rising number of deaths of drug suspects.

The ex-diplomat said Obama would have been “very courteous and very polite” in discussing human rights with Duterte, and not in a lecturing manner as earlier reported by the press.

“When you’re partners, you discuss your differences just like what couples do,” he said in an interview with The Manila Times.

“It’s very unfortunate. I hope that it will really not affect the strong bilateral relations between the Philippines and the US,” Cuisia added.

The Philippines is the US’ oldest Asian partner and is designated by Washington as a “major non-North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally.”

Cuisia noted that the Philippines received over $1.3 billion military and economic assistance from the US in recent years.

In Laos, Obama mentioned increased military cooperation with the Philippines, and Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar noted that during the G20 summit, Obama backed the Philippines’ position that China should observe international law in connection with the sea dispute.

It was Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon who gave Duterte a lecture on Tuesday, on how the President should conduct himself diplomatically.

“Talk about starting off on the wrong foot,” Drilon said in a statement.

“It is unfortunate that such meeting did not push through because of unnecessary rhetoric over human rights issues. We must remember that our foreign policy is shaped in accordance with our national interest. Unfriendly rhetoric and undiplomatic statements will not bring us anywhere,” he said.

Drilon’s colleagues however don’t see any negative consequences from Duterte’s tirades.

“I don’t think this would have any long-lasting or serious consequences in PH-US relations,” Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd said in an interview.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian backed Duterte’s aggressive assertion of Philippine foreign policy independence.

“In a way, it is promising to see that our President is strong enough to rattle even the most powerful leader in the world,” he said.

Senators Juan Edgardo Angara and Joseph Victor Ejercito said the incident could affect the relations between the two nations but this could easily be addressed with skillful diplomacy.

In the House of Representatives, Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza feared that the Philippines could be headed for isolation.

“I’m afraid that if we continue this kind of course, we might be isolating ourselves from the rest of the world,” he said.


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  1. ” At this moment, they desperately need the US.”
    Sit back and relax, the US will blink. Ignoring the Philippines will mean we get aid from Russia or China which will then definitely request for bases in the island. Do you think the US will allow that? I don’t think so.

  2. We value criticism but what we don’t value is criticism with evil intent. Our foreign policy is strong and will become stronger as we address criminality, drugs,, corruption and the road to peace while eliminating the threat of Abu Sayyap. We must reject those groups who wish to underscore the effort of President Duterte to cleanse the mortal wounds inflicted by the yellow dogs to our country while they were in power.

  3. Our country is no longer a colony of the US, yet many Filipinos are still adhering for colonial mentality like enjoying food and drinks in McDonald’s, Starbucks, buying famous products like, Nike, Ralph Lauren, Old Navy, Coca-Cola, watching Hollywood movies, listening to American singers, etc..

  4. Cuisia – tried and tested US lapdog
    Drilon – another lapdog
    R. Daza – you really think the Philippines will be isolated from the rest of the world? Remember China and Russia.

    • The US works according to their best interest. And their best interest in SEA is to support the Philippines, regardless of the Philippines’ attitude towards them. I mean, we trew them out of their bases, and yet here they are. If the US did not have any vested interest in the region, no matter what ass licking our expert diplomats do, the US would not bother.

  5. This whole story is a tempest in a glass.
    Yes, The President has a language which does not please everybody. Foul language, yes probably. But he is often deadly accurate in his remarks and his view of the facts is a welcome refresher. I suggest everybody to try to read beyond the words.

    Obama is truly a hypocrite and a liar to boot. As the supreme commander of the US forces, he is commandeering himself all kinds of extrajudicial killings in the name “we are the US, we have the right”. Just think about the drone operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He has absolutely no right to lecture a third country about such things, especially given the fact that we are purely talking about the internal affairs of the Philippines. I do agree with the wording “who does he think he is?”. This is right to the point.

    Additionally, just think about how “US lecturing” ended in many countries. I would not like the Philippines to go down that path.

    The facts are that the US needs the Philippines and the Philippines needs some external support which at this time is supplied by the US. Make no mistake, the US needs the Philippines badly in their opposition to China’s expansion.
    We can only wish that the US would drop their unbearable arrogance and have an equal to equal relationship with the Phils.

    The undiplomatic row was launched by Obama himself. If he has such a thin skin, he should keep his remarks to the meeting itself and not brag his superiority ahead of time. A counterpunch by Duterte was as certain as the Habagat in the summer.

    Disclaimer: I am not Filipino and have no meat in this issue. Just commenting.

  6. matinong pinoy on

    Presently, there is no such thing as tension between PH and US, and the comments made by PDU30 to POTUS was based on human rights, and was personally addressed to Obama, himself. He didn’t want to be lectured about Human Right violations, and at that time he made the statement, he was stressed out and under pressure because he is fighting war in two fronts, drugs and terrorism, with limited budget, a leftover budget from previous administration. PDU30’s political opponents in Congress and the Media, writing about number of deaths and human right violations also seems to impede his progress in doing what he have promised to the Filipino People.

    We need to understand, that the U.S. foreign policy and military commitment in countries of Asia- Pacific region will remain strong and Philippines in particular, economic and military aid are not affected in any way, shape or form. The U.S. will continue to abide by its commitment in the Philippines to protect their interests, as well.

  7. US President Obama’s reason for the cancellation of the meeting with President Duterte is that “the meeting might not be a constructive one”. Unfortunately, there was no agenda of the meeting except that the press were telling us President Obama will raise allege EJK in President Duterte’s administration. Just what he meant of a constructive meeting, only the Americans know. I am convinced the former thinks he might find it hard to let the latter toe the American line. Nanghihinayang ba ako because of the cancellation? Of course not. Obama has only a little over four months left in office and on Jan 20, 2017 there will be changing of guards in the US.

  8. It is about time we shed off our colonial mentality and think independently for ourselves. We do not need to be lap dogs of the US to have better lives and to live with pride and dignity. We are Filipinos and we are world class. I am glad Pres. Duterte had the courage and the balls to remind us of this truth.

    • DU30 comments is not about colonial mentality.It’s his inherent arrogance and his belligerent attitude towards criticism and lack of refinement in manners and short of grasp on international issues and diplomacy

    • Def.Misanthrope on

      Do you really think this is the time to shed the “colonial mentality”? China is becoming increasingly belligerent in violating the Philippines’ territorial waters. Regardless of Filipinos’ “pride and dignity”, the Philippines does not have the military strength to resist China. At this moment, they desperately need the US.

      Perhaps it would be better to save the posturing on colonialism until after China is no longer a threat?

    • Not at a time when we need them. How will you stop the Chinese? They will grab an island in the Philippines one after the other. It will be a choice, America or China? The Philippines have to go to War. There is no other option. Stop negotiating with China. It is useless. We need American weaponry. And prepare for WAR.!