Given the current state of confusion and chaos, President Rodrigo Duterte could be doing himself and everybody else a favor if he cleared up some basic points concerning his war on drugs and his announced policy shift toward Beijing and Moscow, away from Washington. This is the least Filipinos deserve.
Does he really believe that to criticize the drug killings is to take the side of the drug lords, and that no foreign government or institution, not even the UN, may criticize the killings, which have now risen to 3,000, unless they are prepared for his invectives?
What exactly does he mean when he says he has decided to drift closer toward China and Russia and away from the US, the country’s strongest military ally, its biggest foreign investor, and its second largest export market after Japan?
PH a sovereign state
A State Department spokesman has pointed out that as an independent and sovereign country, the Philippines is free to develop close ties with any country without offending any other country. Does DU30 believe that political or economic closeness with either China or Russia means political or economic estrangement from the US?
Does he believe that China and Russia on the one hand and the US on the other would want to revive the Cold War, which ended in 1991 after the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, just to oblige the Filipino strongman?
These are some of the points that need to be clarified, as the fallout from the drug killings threatens the Philippines with adverse economic consequences, which DU30 seems ready to attribute to the “Americans undermining” the country’s economy.
The peso has fallen to a seven year-low, Philippine stocks continue to bleed on foreign selling, and the economy’s global competitiveness has dropped by 10 points from last year’s index, according to the World Economic Forum. All these DU30 seem to blame not on himself, who has provoked the reaction, but on those merely reacting to the stimulus.
Enrile’s view on the US
On my Destiny Cable TV program on Sunday/Monday, former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile maintained that the US is the most powerful military, economic and technological power in the world, and will remain so for yet a long time.
In terms of oil supply alone, it has become the biggest oil producer, much bigger than Saudi Arabia or any other country, he said, because of its undisputed technological lead. While China plans to mine the back of the moon for helium-three, the fuel of the future, America is producing its oil from shale. Enrile said America does not need the Philippines or any other country in the world; it is the Philippines and other countries that need the US.
This, however, is just one view. Another view suggests doomsday not only for the American, but for the European economies as well. Some monetary experts are predicting that the US dollar could soon cease to be the main currency for international trade, replaced by a domestic dollar, which will be instantly devalued by one-third, as the countries of the world shift to gold and silver, and as America’s $555-trillion derivatives bubble bursts, the too-big-to-fail banks collapse, and the US as a whole is forced to join the Third World.
Under the first scenario, the US will be in a position to “screw” us up anytime it wants to, to borrow DU30’s homegrown cliche. Except that, there is as yet no sign that it had to unleash George Soros to attack the peso. Under the doomsday scenario, the US, because of its own problems, will be in no position to plant a virus into the Philippine economy.
What appears more obvious then is that receding investor confidence in the DU30 regime’s ability to follow the rule of law has set off all these negative developments. These have inspired US Senator Patrick Leahy to ask the US Senate to reconsider regular assistance to the Philippines until it is able to improve its human rights and rule-of-law record.
At the same time, a spokesman at the US Embassy in Manila has revealed it might divert elsewhere a $6.7 million law enforcement aid to the DU30 government on the same ground.
The amounts involved may not appear significant to a government that intends to spend at least P25 trillion on its programs in the next six years, assuming it has the absorptive capacity. This would be bigger than any previous government’s budget, in fact bigger than the budget of all previous governments combined. But the political impact could be incalculable. It could look like the first step toward imposing economic sanctions on a rogue regime like North Korea.
What does it all mean?
Many are proud of DU30 for “standing up” to the US, which NDF chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni describes as “the exploiter and oppressor of the Filipino people.” But what does this mean? How precisely is DU30 standing up to the US? By renouncing the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty, the Visiting Forces Agreement, or the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement? That has not happened.
By turning back a nuclear powered warship or an Ohio class nuclear submarine inside Philippine waters because of the nuclear weapons-free provision of the Constitution? Neither has that happened.
By prohibiting the US, Australian and Japanese navies from jointly patrolling the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone? Only the Philippine mosquito fleet has withdrawn from that joint patrol, the allies have remained.
By expelling US troops from Mindanao? DU30 has threatened to do that, but he was quickly overruled by his own Secretary of National Defense, who said the US troops will stay in Mindanao.
By prohibiting joint military exercises between the US military and the Armed Forces of the Philippines? Neither; one of the biggest joint military exercises is taking place in Luzon right now, although DU30 says, “this will be the last one.”
By declaring that he will work for the repeal of the Reproductive Health Law, which B.S. Aquino had rammed through Congress at the behest of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in violation of the pro-life provisions of the Constitution? Not only will this law remain undisturbed; the DU30 regime intends to make population control a pillar of its program to eliminate the “useless eaters” in society by limiting the number of children to three per married couple.
Or by declaring that he will prohibit all foreign non-religious agencies from undertaking programs related to the family and the poor without the knowledge and consent of the government? Neither.
In what way then is DU30 standing up to the US on an issue invested with its national interest?
What are they quarreling about?
Simply by calling President Barack Obama “the son of a whore” and denying later that he had in fact cursed him? How does that lapse in good manners qualify for standing up to Washington? What US national interest or policy issue did he stand up against? What exactly are he and Obama quarreling about?
Is there a maritime territorial dispute between the US and the Philippines, in which the Permanent Court of Arbitration had ruled in favor of the US, but which DU30 has refused to recognize? That would be one example of standing up to the US.
Has DU30 fortified any maritime features in the Spratlys, which are claimed by the US, and has he rejected any and all demands to terminate his fortification and to vacate the premises? That would be another way of standing up to the US.
As it turns out, there was no actual encounter between DU30 and Obama, except for a casual handshake. Obama had wanted to talk to him about the human rights situation in the Philippines, but when DU30 cursed him, Obama canceled the proposed meeting on the sidelines of the Asean summit in Vientiane.
If cursing Obama was all that was needed to qualify for standing up to the US, what does cursing the Pope and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, or flashing “the middle finger” at the European Union qualify him for?
Would the NDF chief negotiator be ready to cite him for standing up to God and his Church just as the father of all lies stood up to God by declaring, “I will not serve?”
Now, when DU30 says he wants to move closer to China and Russia and away from the US, what is he prepared to give to the two countries and take away from the third? DU30 seems to have the impression that prior to June 30 this year, we had no working relations with China and Russia, and that his arrival alone will open a new path.
Ties with China and Russia long set
This is contrary to the facts. We already had excellent working relations with both countries. In 1975, Marcos normalized diplomatic relations with China by adopting the One-China policy; in 1976, he established relations with the USSR—still during the Cold War. I was part of the official delegation to the two countries.
Despite our maritime territorial dispute with China, which became the subject of a war of words between the Aquino administration and its Beijing counterpart, we have long had a robust relationship marked by, among other things, our recent membership in the newly organized Asian Investment and Infrastructure Bank (AIIB), and our active interest in China’s One Belt, One Road project that hopes to link the various continents of the world by fast trains, ships and planes.
With respect to Moscow, our strong friendly relations had long preceded the breakup of the Soviet Union and been marked by cultural exchanges that included the visits of the Bolshoi Ballet with Rudolf Nureyev, Maya Plesitskaya, Mikhail Baryshnikov, the poet Yvgeny Yevtushenko, several famous Russian conductors and pianists, chess international grandmasters and other artists.
More recently, in their fight against the demographic winter that has cost Russia a loss of 250,000 people every year from ageing and greying, Russian pro-life and pro-family workers have linked up with the rest of the world to energize their program. In the last few years, I have been invited thrice to Moscow—first to speak at the World Demographic Congress, second to launch the Russia Parents’ Association, and third to help keynote the Congress on Large Families as the Key to the Future at the Kremlin. And I did not have to denounce the US or my Catholic faith.
What we are hearing on DU30’s foreign policy, I am afraid, is pure bunk.