AFTER President Rodrigo Duterte named former Senator Edgardo Angara special envoy to the European Union, apparently to strengthen our diplomatic presence in Brussels and in most of the 28 member countries, one thought the EU had suddenly become very important to the DU30 government. Then DU30 dropped a small bomb: He said he had decided to renounce all grants and aids from the EU, which had allowed its officials to interfere in the domestic affairs of the Philippine government. In an age of growing interdependence, DU30 seems determined to minimize our dealings with our once strongest historic allies as he seeks to expand economic and military ties with Beijing and Moscow.
This seems to be our foreign policy conundrum as PDU30 prepares to visit Russia, following his just concluded One Belt, One Road summit meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other leaders in Beijing.
A major partner
The EU is a major trading, investments, economic and diplomatic partner of the Philippines. It is said to be the eighth largest source of aid for the country, which receives 250 million euros, or $278.7 million (P14 billion) each year. In spite of what we hear from some of DU30’s congressional allies, it isn’t easy to throw away P14 billion, except in defense of some inviolable principles, and expect that our new Chinese uncle would replenish it. Aside from our country’s relations with the bloc, we have excellent bilateral ties with its 28 member-countries, which include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, which recently opted to exit the Union.
All these are affected by DU30’s move.
No two more contradictory moves could have come from DU30. Thus, the contradictory reactions too. On the one hand, supporters welcomed DU30’s statement as a “declaration of independence from Europe,” on whom we have never been dependent, a sequel to his October 2016 declaration in Beijing of “economic and military “separation” from the United States, and alignment with China and Russia “against the world.” On the other hand, some observers seem to believe DU30 had simply cut his nose to spite his face. One question they ask is, will “special relations” with China and Russia replace those with the US, or will there eventually follow a similar declaration of “independence” from these new patrons?
Correct principle, but…
One cannot dispute the principle invoked by DU30; but its application is open to question. Aid to the poor should never be used to promote programs and policies that harm the recipient. Yet donor governments customarily, if not canonically, interfere in the private lives of their intended beneficiaries, to the point of violating their inherent rights and inviolable liberties. The big powers normally share the same practice against human life, the family and marriage, which President Donald Trump to his credit is now trying to correct on behalf of the US. They generally impose population control on the poor, which our Constitution forbids, but which the writer of the Supreme Court ruling on the Reproductive Health Law says is quite “all right.”
The global war on population continues. The central proposition is that the poor must not be allowed to dominate the earth; thus Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has been quoted as saying he would like to be reborn as a virus to finish the job that all the population control measures have failed to do. The constantly expanding LGBT agenda offers the full course—contraception, sterilization, abortion, divorce, “same-sex marriage,” etc. Motherhood, fatherhood, child-bearing, and the permanent and exclusive union of one man and one woman for life, which defines the institution of marriage, as the foundation of the family, must all be abolished. These are now the First World’s exports to the Third World. And they have gained substantial support from UN bureaucrats and high magistrates in the US and other parts of the world.
I don’t believe DU30 was referring to any of these, though, when he spoke of EU interference in the internal affairs of our government. He was apparently more clearly focused on the EU’s blunt criticisms of the summary killings in his drug war, his proposed imposition of the death penalty despite our treaty commitment to abolish the penalty under the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the lowering of the age of criminal liability for children from 15 to nine.
Legalizing abortion and drug use
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano says DU30 was reacting to pressure from the EU that we legalize abortion and decriminalize drug abuse. If this statement is true, a big “NO” from the President would have sufficed to remind the least literate EU official that the Philippine Constitution, which speaks of the sanctity of human life, bans abortion absolutely, and there’s no way of getting around it.
At the UN headquarters in New York, certain bureaucrats in some treaty bodies try periodically to suggest to Filipino diplomats to change their anti-abortion laws, as if they could. Always, a blank stare suffices to put them in their place. Should the EU refuse to take DU30’s “NO”, they could pull out their grants and aids, and DU30 could simply say, “good riddance.” But for him to be the one to tell them to get out with their grants and aids is not so easy to understand.
Foreign-funded programs aimed at abolishing the biological functions conferred by nature on the two sexes, and making women infertile and marriage childless, constitute gross interference in the right and duty of citizens to fulfill their God-given mandate. Many would have lined up behind DU30 had he announced that because of the tendency of the foreign elite to interfere in the intimate lives of Filipinos, no foreign government or non-governmental organization would henceforth be allowed to run any program or project anywhere in the country, without the prior approval of the national government, which has to make sure that such programs or projects do not undermine our laws or moral values. This would have been a formidable initiative.
Despite Cayetano’s belated explanation, the suspicion lingers that DU30 was simply reacting to the EU’s statements on the extra-judicial killings, the death penalty and the criminalization of young offenders with baby teeth. However unpleasant and unwelcome these statements may be, they do not, in my view, constitute interference in our internal affairs. When the rights of citizens of a particular country are violated by their own government, they have a right to turn to their fellow humans in more hospitable places. Members of the human race have the duty to defend, with their lives if necessary, the intrinsic dignity of their fellows, even if the Universal Declaration of Human Rights did not exist. But it does exist. This is one idea DU30 must learn to accept and live with.
Because rich and powerful governments habitually interfere even in our moral lives, I tried as a member of the interim Batasang Pambansa from 1978 to 1984 to make it not so easy for them to run programs and projects in the countryside or interfere in our policymaking and legislation, without submitting to a legal process. Together with then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, I authored the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1979. This was one of the first laws enacted by the Batasan; it provides that any individual whose activity is funded wholly or partly by a foreign principal is a “foreign agent” and cannot be allowed to operate in the country without first registering with the Department of Justice, which is mandated to provide the rules and regulations governing the statute.
This, in my view, is one of the most important laws we ever enacted for the protection of our national security and other interests. But it is today as “dead as a door nail,” to borrow Ambassador Teddyboy Locsin’s tweet to Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on summary killings, in relation to lawyer Jude Josue Sabaio’s 77-page complaint against DU30 before the International Criminal Court at The Hague. The sheer number of foreign-funded NGOs going around the countryside to tell our rural women how their Canadian, American, Australian, and European counterparts expect them to live their lives is one sordid proof of this interference.
This is the kind of meddling we should immediately get rid of. And this is where DU30—with the help of Cayetano, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd and perhaps Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo—could make such an impact. DU30 should have the courage and candor to tell leaders of the First World, in appropriate language, what Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta told former US President Barack Obama in Nairobi during the latter’s last presidential visit to Africa, that so-called “gay rights” are a “non-issue” to the African race. The same for us, Filipinos, despite the huge number of “foreign agents” trying to hype in our media the LGBT’s vulgar and venal gospel to the world.
DU30’s forthcoming meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has a clear-headed policy on demographic and family issues, should be most helpful and instructive in this respect.
DU30’s only real problem with the rest of the world is his brutal drug war, which has produced so many undocumented deaths. He must come up with an acceptable defense, not just a completely boring and useless statement, like that of Cayetano before the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, which dismisses the entire thing as “fake news,” and threatens his human rights critics with the same fate as drug suspects.