FIRST THINGS FIRST

Will DU30 tell the US what he told the Chinese?

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FRANCISCO S. TATAD

FRANCISCO S. TATAD

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russell will be in Manila today to find out exactly what President Duterte meant when he said in Beijing last week that he was separating the Philippines, economically and militarily, from the United States, and aligning it with China and Russia “against the world.” Not only the US needs such a clarification. The Filipino people are the first ones that do. Then their Asian and other allies. Then China and Russia, too.

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Was DU30 speaking just for himself, as he would have us believe, when he spoke of “separating” from the US? Did Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladmirir Putin, who are out to win friends for themselves everywhere, authorize DU30 to say they now stand (with him) “against the world?”

No diplomatic break
Arriving from his four-day visit to China on Saturday, DU30 said “separation” does not mean “severance” of diplomatic ties. Diplomatic relations will continue, as far as DU30 is concerned, but the so-called “special relations” will have to go. Of course, the US, on its own, could suspend diplomatic relations if it finds any reason to do so. Some observers, including the longest serving defense secretary of the country, believe that DU30 needs the US more than the US needs DU30; the US, therefore, should not be intimidated by his threats to “separate” or even sever relations.

Doug Bandow, a political author who once worked as a special assistant to President Ronald Reagan and is now a senior fellow at Cato Institute, writes: “America is a curious great power. It cowers before international lightweights, begging the least significant nations to let it defend themselves, such as the Philippines. United States credibility suffers when a nation long subsidized and defended by America shows such ostentatious disrespect. The Philippine president shouldn’t be treated like a co-equal and ally if he doesn’t behave like one.”

The meaning of economic and military separation
What does economic and military separation mean? DU30 needs to explain this term. The Philippines’ biggest source of foreign investments is the US. Its biggest export market after Japan is the US. The biggest single concentration of Filipinos abroad is in the US. The most number of post-graduate degrees for Filipinos who studied abroad come from the US. And the only country with which the Philippines has existing military and security treaties is the US.

Assuming DU30 could cut off economic and military ties with the US without severing diplomatic ties, what would this mean? Would it mean withdrawing from all the economic institutions, forums and initiatives where the US plays a key role, shutting down all US investments, closing down all call centers, terminating all exports, imports, and technological exchanges? It seems unimaginable.

In the area of military security, would it mean terminating the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, which declares that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on either of the Parties would be dangerous to the peace and safety of both parties, and that the other party not attacked would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes? Would it involve all types of cooperation not specifically contemplated under the MDT, but falling under the global war on terror, not anticipated by any formal military agreement?

What happens to the treaties?

If DU30 decides that his pivot to China and Russia has removed any possibility of the Philippine armed forces, naval vessels or aircraft being attacked by China, Russia or North Korea, he might conclude that the need for an MDT with the US has been rendered superfluous. And since he may no longer imagine the Philippines fighting against China in case of an armed conflict between the US and China, he may decide to scrap the MDT altogether. With the MDT out, the 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement, and the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement would automatically follow, since they are but “implementing agreements” of the MDT.

However, our military ties with the US will not cease automatically just because DU30 has said so. DU30’s statement cannot have the same effect as the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, which sent the American forces fleeing Clark and Subic even before the 1947 Military Bases Agreement actually ended. The MDT has an indefinite term, which either party could terminate only by giving the other party a one-year written notice. Similarly, the EDCA may be terminated also upon a one-year written notice. The VFA may be terminated upon a 180-day notice.

But the actual termination of these treaties does not, and will not, remove the Philippines from the protective global umbrella provided by the US. The US will continue to provide a naval security cover for all the commercial vessels transporting people and goods between the Philippines and various points around the world. Most of the vessels plying the oceans are manned by Filipinos who account for a full one-third of the world’s seafarers; they will continue to be protected from pirates, terrorists and hostage-takers in the high seas, even after DU30 has “separated” militarily from the US.

A silly Senate threat
Some previously silent and slumbering members of the Senate have warned that DU30 would be committing an impeachable offense if he terminates the military treaties and agreements with the US, without the concurrence of the Senate. They seem to see a possible opening for the former ruling party to move for DU30’s removal and replacement by the Vice President-under protest, who has the support of the Liberal Party. This is delusional and absurd; it has no constitutional basis.

While the President cannot validly ratify a treaty without the concurrence of at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate, especially if it involves foreign military bases, troops or facilities, he can terminate a treaty, including those that had been concurred in by the Senate, all by his lonesome, simply by complying with the termination clause contained in the treaty or agreement.

I would argue, however, that the President cannot and should not upend or drastically modify a treaty that has become the basis of a government’s defense and military policy for ages, and which has helped to form the people’s cultural and psychological makeup, without involving the people themselves. It is best that the President refer the matter to the people in a referendum or a plebiscite. The people, not the President, are the real sovereign; whatever authority DU30 believes he has merely emanates from them. This is how the Constitution puts it.

The national interest
The President is merely the people’s servant, as the previous occupant of the presidency correctly, if light-heartedly, put it. He cannot bind the people to his personal will, unless it is also their own.

Now, has DU30 tried to ascertain the people’s will on this all-important issue? He has not. While the making of foreign policy is the President’s prerogative, with the Senate as co-maker, in a subordinate capacity, the national interest, not the President’s caprice, decides the general direction of that foreign policy. This is well-established and not open to debate.

Because we renounce war as an instrument of national policy, we seek friendship and cooperation with all nations and avoid misunderstanding, enmity or conflict with any. No President can whimsically change the nation’s longstanding relations with any ally except for an extraordinarily grave cause, and with the people’s full consent and support. If for an exceptionally grave reason the state decides to break off diplomatic ties with, or declare war on an ally, that exceptionally grave reason should be stated fully with unmistakable clarity, and popularly supported.

A life of personal affronts
So far DU30 has failed to explain his cause. A relatively balanced article in the Wall Street Journal traces his deep-seated resentment against the US to a number of personal affronts. He did not like Barack Obama poking his nose into the local drug killings, which he considers a “purely internal affair” of his government, and he resented Obama’s canceling a proposed bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Asean summit in Laos, after he called Obama the “son of a whore.” In Beijing, he revealed having been denied a US visitor’s visa, and having been rudely accosted by a black man.

He also complained that Americans were “loud and rowdy,” while Orientals were traditionally polite and well mannered. Upon his return from Beijing, he revealed the US had disrespected him by sending an alleged spy to Davao city, who carried explosives and got involved in a hotel fire. He identified the alleged spy as Michael Meiring, whom the communist leader Jose Ma. Sison had earlier linked to the Davao bombing, which prompted DU30 to declare a state of lawless violence.

For someone who has made a virtue of using foul and vulgar language to rage against God, the Pope, the US President, the UN Secretary-General, the European Union’s collective leadership, and various church dignitaries, this was certainly an incredible performance. There are vulgar Americans as there are other vulgar individuals everywhere, but they have no role to play in deciding whether two countries should or should not have economic or military ties.

How to deal with spies
On the issue of the alleged spy, it seems rather naive to complain that something like this was reportedly happening. Even a poor country like the Philippines has its own intelligence operatives in foreign countries. The US, UK, China, Russia, France, Japan, Israel, Iran, Malaysia and Indonesia, to mention just a few, are presumed to employ their own spies everywhere to gather information for their respective governments. The duty of every government is to monitor the activities of these foreign operatives. If and when they cross the line, the government should be able to move against them and apply the necessary sanctions.

For example, in 1960, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew exposed a CIA attempt to bribe him with $3.3 million in order to cover up an unsuccessful operation that involved the purchase of secret information from Singaporean officials. Lee got Secretary of State Dean Rusk to write him a formal letter of apology, so that when the State Department spokesman denied the exposé, all he had to do was to show Rusk’s letter to the US correspondents, and ask, how could the State ever deny the undeniable? Like Lee, DU30 should have caught the alleged US spy in flagrante delicto.

No surprise for China
Until now, DU30 has done nothing to manifest his announced decision to “separate” through any concrete action. This seems more of the shadow of a sword suspended in midair, which could drop anytime. But DU30’s latest statement— that he will not break diplomatic ties—has effectively withdrawn that sword. This should allow all those who support continued US-Philippine friendship to breathe a little better.

Indeed, the Chinese might hope that DU30’s actions after China would match the rhetoric they heard from him during his visit. But what they might hear from Foreign Secretary Yasay’s conversations with Russell today may be the exact opposite of what they had expected. They should not be disappointed, nor surprised. DU30’s ability to reverse himself and keep everyone guessing has become the primary quality of his presidency. This kept the mao tai going in Beijing, and it is what he has brought, intact and unalloyed, back to his adoring masses.

fstatad@gmail.com

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26 Comments

  1. Did Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladmirir Putin, who are out to win friends for themselves everywhere, authorize DU30 to say they now stand (with him) “against the world? by Sec. Kit Tatad

    DU30 needs the US more than the US needs DU30; the US, therefore, should not be intimidated by his threats to “separate” or even sever relations. by Sec. Kit Tatad

    The President is merely the people’s servant, as the previous occupant of the presidency correctly, if light-heartedly, put it. He cannot bind the people to his personal will, unless it is also their own. by Sec. Kit Tatad

    Some previously silent and slumbering members of the Senate have warned that DU30 would be committing an impeachable offense if he terminates the military treaties and agreements with the US, without the concurrence of the Senate. by Sec. Kit Tatad

    Your article asked for clarifications, above are your own opinions answering your own question. Your article is attempting to create confusions among the fellow filipinoes especially the OFW worker. This is a scare tactic to create doubt among filipinoes. This, from all credible informations coming out, will not doubt fail. Truth always come out in the light . Mr. DU30 communicate well with the common filipinoes. He able to inform filipinoes in a way understandable to everyone without spinning the issues.

    First. Sec. Tatad, you question the intent of the leaders of China And Russia to find friends (allies) everywhere. Such a comical question. Leaders around the world will always look after the betterment of their country financially economically as well as militarily both internally and externally. My Philippines will need all the allies both economically and militarily to continue our much awaited change. Sec. Tatad, we cannot limit ourselves to USA alone. I think, you would agree this a good call by Mr. Du30
    Second. I agree, USA does need the Philippines. Almost all country need the USA economically and militarily.The USA and it’s people are among the greatest and most charitable country and people in the world. Hearing from Mr. DU30 the first time, he would like to separate from USA. Maybe because of his admitted hatred of USA, he would like to delineate from the USA. But he also states he does not the authority to implement that. He admit he continually need the USA for economic and military. He admit we are too small and to weak to severe our relation with the USA. But I caution. Be very leary with the leadership of the USA especially with this administration. I pray we elect the right president that get us out of what Obama did.
    Third. Correct again, Mr DU30 stated admittedly in his visit to Beijing whether he has authority to impose his will and the power to implement them he cannot do it. He need to follow the Philippines constitution and present his proposal to common filipinoes and get their approval.
    Fourth, MrDu30 cannot corrupt the constitution. This will cause to lose filipinoes who are looking up to him and declare the only president to lead my Philippines to greatness. He, himself, states He run for presidency because my Philippines is being govern by dogs. If ever God forbid, Mr. DU30 has a selfish intention I believe filipinoes will stand up and exert their will and “people power” that topple the Marcos administration. Thank you

  2. Doomsayers are abound here.Peeps stop being a worrywart.We should instead help the president reach his goals.He is not a glibtalker but the Filipinos who voted for him knew what he wanted to happen in his terms.He’s not even one year in yet,gusto nyo magic kaagad Ang mangyari.

  3. Duterte said that the PH is now dependent on CH for all time {reference: TheMaharlikan.Info}| I really don’ t like this statement. We shouldn’ t be dependent on anyone for all time because the Country should only Trust Their God and Jesus Christ for LIFE.

    What are the Filipinos gonna be in 10 years?| Buddhists? Atheists? or simply Copycats of CHinas? This really worries me: CH being worshipped by Duterte as if they are HIS Savior :P

    The truth is CH ain’ t saving PH| in reality they might even cause the PH its downfall because of the alienation of other Western/ European countries away from the PH because of Duterte’ s FAN Worship on CH.

    True, we need help from other countries| but we need all balanced help from the good ones| not from a thief.

    Look at it this way, CH stole the PH Waters and the our President doesn’ t file a lawsuit against the CH but instead nangutang pa siya sa magnanakaw ng Property ng Bansa niya: this is so lly, a work of a walang prinsipyo na tao. If he was to receive the money| then it shouldn’ t be an utang: the CH money should ba a bayad from tha nakaw that they have done to the Filipinos.

    Now| what kind of person is a Digong where he sees the MAGNANAKAW as his Saviour? A Cartoon :P

  4. Now the calls centres are closing how will Duterte employ 1.5 Million and feed their families? This means at least 10 million will be affected and have no money to live from his anti usa tirades.

    http://money.cnn.com/2016/10/24/news/economy/duterte-philippines-us-business/index.html

    This is just USA customers, next will be Australia, New Zealand, UK etc we will also boycott Philippines now.

    Do not bite the hand that feeds you! Do not insult people paying your bills!

  5. The crystal ballers are here again to tell all Filipinos what they have mirrored from their BALLS..and you know they are all BALLS as in BOLA-das. Couple with the ANAL-yzers these are the group of talented but coward people who use pseudo prophecies and analyses nary of fate on the capacity of the duly elected THE BRAVE ONE DU30. Great nations emerged because great leaders lead the revolutions ( of wars, of changes, against dynasties, new ideals, visionaries…et al ). THE BRAVE ONE DU30 I will pray for his type of revolution (of bringing pride to Filipinos) to succeed..

  6. If you’re confused with what the president is saying, that’s only because you are using your own way of thinking, and not his. Complicating your analysis is the presence of vested interest to protect, personal bias and prejudice, etc.

    What Duterte said in China is what is in his heart and mind. What he said now that he’s home is just to provide a “soft landing” for the highly brainwashed, vested interests with benefit greatly from US meddling, and some relatives living abroad.

    For those living abroad, there’s nothing to worry about because the majority of the Americans and Europeans today are ashamed of what their governments are doing outside of their countries.

    For the vested interest groups, there are only a few of them left that are anti-Duterte, considering the fact that the top 400 tycoons of the country went with him in China, which makes us wonder who this writer really is trying to protect if not the US State Department, and the Catholic hierarchy which has been at odds with the Buddhists for centuries.

    Once the Chinese-funded infrastructure projects are in full swing, and the massive increase in Chinese tourists coming in, public opinion against China will change dramatically.

  7. If the Philippines stopped joining military exercise with the US, Japan is there, joining America’s military as well as South Korea. Another thing, the US is negotiating for the cooperation of India. Australia for sure will be there militarily for the USA. Let us not be stupid. America will prevail in that Philippine-China sea. America will not worry about the Philippines, simply the US for just one day can blast that illegally occupied islets. Then followed by the American marines to clear the area. Philippine military forces are irrelevant. FINISHED!

    CHINA AND RUSSIA are afraid of the most powerful submarine of the United States. This American element of surprise will deter China and Russia for nuclear war.

    Remember in WW II, the USA had secret weapons against the Japanese, it was unknown until they are released during the final encounter. History repeats itself. I believe America has secret weapons against China and Russia.

    The ultimate goal of China utilizing the natural resources and human resource in the Philippines will not prevail if America will destroy China in that stolen section of the Philippine sea. America must act militarily on this. ANG AMERICA AYAW NILA NG NASASAPAWAN NG KAHIT ANONG BANSA.

  8. It does not take a genius to figure out the following:
    # DU 30 or no DU 30, Philippines or no Philippines, it is only a matter time, the USA will not allow China to stay on and keep that built islets at the Philippine sea. The American stance is not for the Philippines, but to keep the USA supreme power in that particular section of the region. In reality America is ignoring the game being played by DU 30.

    It has been said that time and time again the Filipinos love America more than the Americans do. It is also a common knowledge that Filipinos in the USA are assets and not liabilities.

    America is divided among the conservative, liberal, moderate and independent. What is pulling down the USA comes from the liberal who depends from government handouts, the criminal illegal immigrants and the lazy people who do not want to work for a living. These maladies happened during the Obama’s administration. The American voters will be dumb it they extend Obama’s policies through Hilary Clinton, who with her husband is questioned in money matters through the Clinton Foundation, plus other issues known to the American public.

  9. 86% of Pilipino people trust President Digong to steer this MV Filipinas to a place called “better tomorrow”. Unfortunately, aboard this ship are unpilipino prophets of doom whos mission is to keep boring holes so the ship will fail and sink before it reach its destination. nakakalungkot but in the end, digong will prevail with the support of majority!

  10. DU30 is playing this diplomatic game superbly. His declaration of Independence from the US is now an accepted fact by all Nations. His move to re-open a “Good Neighbor” policy with China has been a success and he has replaced any perceived loss of aid from the US. The US will try to repair relations. But, DU30 will demand a meeting of “equals”. The pivot point (the PH) has been lost in the US “Pivot To Asia” strategy. This is the big blunder by the US. They did not realize the PH elected President was nothing like our previous Presidents. He is not a follower. He is bringing independence to the Nation and is doing things that will improve the PH. The EDCA agreement was signed by Aquino, because the US told him to do it. Now Du30 will follow that pact but cancel it following the the terms of the agreement. He will just enforce the will of the PH, that had already be shown when the PH closed the US bases before.

  11. Duterte has a psychological disorder. All his pronouncements, emotional outbursts, flight of ideas, cursing, saying things and then contradicting them later are symptoms of a mentally unbalanced person. The Filipinos elected a crazy, sirang ulo, katok, baliw person as their president. Agot Isidro is right/

  12. Lea Hetherington on

    Anyone who do not like this President of the Philippines, is too bad for them because most of the Filipino people voted for him. My wish and pray is that he will finish his term and finish successfully the way he wanted for the sake of the country and its people. May God bless the President of the Philippines.

    • The 16 million who voted for Duterte does not represent the popular vote or majority. It is a fraction of the 101 million.

  13. It’s pretty simple why Duterte wants to break from the US as much as possible, think back to before the election when the US confirmed that Duterte was involved in the Davao Death Squads.

    Duterte himself on occasion has boasted about being involved while at other times he denies everything.

    Duterte is probably still raging and blames Obama for confirming his involvement in crimes like mass murder.
    China and Russia could care less if Duterte kills thousands of Philippines citizens.

  14. Severance and separation has almost the same meaning. To tell the Pilipino people that it has different meaning is really an attack to my intelligence. I think that the US will pull out of this country. All indications say it is slowly but surely leaving. The pull out of foreign investment in stocks, depreciation of the peso, no calamity help in the last typhoon is a very clear sign. I do not know what is Duterte bragging. This country is very poor, drug infested people, corrupt public officials, traffic and garbage. Prostitutes all over. No oil and 40 percent poverty rate. What is he bragging about ?

    • You say all the ills of this country, then who made it? Don’t blame him, he is doing another way of doing things and as we see it only fools beg for handouts and still poor …. Now you blame DU30 with the perceived sufferings of this nation “WILL” endure… is this already happens? .. Nah!!! only doomsayers and Amboys want to instill to our minds that America is great and we are at a lost when they go … Stupid who lets himself perpetually poor …. like this writer that is why he has not been elected after his stint in the Senate long time ago … he may say i am retired but why up to now you are writing critical articles to other persons like POE and now DU30. I don’t know your personal intentions but i’m sure it doesn’t help.

  15. he is not fit to be president. I think he should be ordered by senate, congress, supreme court, military and people to step down as soon as possible. something is wrong with him psychologically. plus he is too old for the job. it was a mistake. 2017 will be the deciding point. if he goes ballistic again and the country suffers as a result, if China screw him up with those deals then he will be history.

    • Remember, we are only 100 plus days and it is already affecting our economy. You are saying 2017, I doubt if this nation can handle this guy. A rubber band can only take so much and sooner or later, it will break. Start counting the days but I am sure it will not last till the end of 2017.

    • How sad that the beggar nation status is so accepted that Duterte will be celebrated by all his fanboys for bringing back 24 billion dollars commitment of Chinese “investment” (AKA massive debt that their grandchildren will be paying off) for projects built by Chinese firms.

      It took 30 years for the Philippines to pay off the loan for the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.
      Guess how long it will take to pay back the Chinese ?

  16. The last time I checked the Merriam Webster Dictionary the synonym of separation is severance. Maybe Duterte is reading from a Mandarin version already.

  17. P.Du30 is one leader who confuses, rather than clarifies, the great issues of the day. Many times, he drops bomb shells, only to disown them later; worse, he is never consistent in what he says which causes problems for the nation.

    • My advice to you, do not second guess this guy. He has a problem of perception. You will just get disappointed. Too much politics is not old for you and for me. Hopefully, it does not affect you and me economically.