ASEAN 50: Duterte's coup of sorts

The Freeman - - OPINION -

There is no ques­tion that the ASEAN 50 Sum­mit is off to a rous­ing start with all the ASEAN mem­bers, Viet­nam's Prime Min­is­ter Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Thai­land Prime Min­is­ter Prayut Chan-O-cha, Sin­ga­pore Prime Min­is­ter Lee Hsien Loong, Myan­mar State Coun­sel­lorAung San Suu Kyi, Malaysia Prime Min­is­terNa­jibRazak,BruneiSul­tanHas­sanalBolkiah,Cam­bo­dia Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen and In­done­sian Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo all in Manila to­day for ASEAN's 50th an­niver­sary.

Best of all, ASEAN's di­a­logue part­ners are all here, be­gin­ning with US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, Canada Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull, China's Premier Li Ke­qiang, Ja­pan Prime Min­is­ter Shin­zoAbe, United Na­tions Sec­re­tary Gen­er­alAn­to­nio Guter­res, Euro­pean Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk, In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, New Zealand Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern, Rus­sian Prime Min­is­ter Dmitry Medvedev and South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-In.

That the 50thASEAN an­niver­sary brought all these world lead­ers to the Philip­pines is a sign of the re­spect that they have for the lead­er­ship of Pres. Ro­drigo "Digong" Duterte as head of ASEAN. No doubt we all have a shared in­ter­est and chal­lenges. This ASEAN trip of US Pres. Don­ald Trump came up with a meet­ing with Chi­nese leader Xi Jin­ping and a short but fruit­ful meet­ing with Rus­sia's Vladimir Putin is the most sig­nif­i­cant trip and Amer­i­can Pres­i­dent has done in just a few short days.

Of course the Yel­low­tards are dis­ap­pointed just like their leftist friends of Bayan Muna who held a rally, which was dis­persed by the po­lice. They wanted the is­sue of ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings as a main topic of the ASEAN Sum­mit. But in truth, ASEAN has many hu­man rights is­sues like Myan­mar's Ro­hingya is­sue, which I'm sure, makes Aung Sang Suu Kyi very un­com­fort­able. In short, the hu­man rights is­sue will be tak­ing a back seat against more press­ing chal­lenges that the ASEAN lead­ers would be dis­cussing in the Manila Sum­mit.

Mean­while it is quite re­as­sur­ing that US Pres. Don­ald Trump wants to re-en­er­gize RP-US part­ner­ship in the light of is­sues like North Korea and the South China Sea. I dare say that when Duterte showed the Amer­i­cans (then it was un­der Pres. Bar­rack Obama) that the Philip­pines can free it­self fromAmer­i­can in­flu­ence and made friends with Chi­nese leader Xi Jin­ping, de­spite the is­sues hound­ing us in the South China Sea, we ac­tu­ally got more than we bar­gained for with our friend­ship with China. Add Pres. Duterte's mak­ing friends with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin; I dare say that it was a diplo­matic coup of sorts.

For too long, our part­ner­ship with the US was tied with so many strings, which then Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton un­abashedly told us that we should al­low for abor­tion and con­tra­cep­tion with­out which no US aid would be given. At this point, we can only hope that this new friend­ship be­tween Pres. Trump and Pres. Duterte would re­sult in a real part­ner­ship where both na­tions would reap ben­e­fits from. At this point we con­grat­u­late Pres. Duterte for suc­cess­fully host­ing ASEAN 50th, which will cer­tainly be part of Philip­pine his­tory.

* * *

I didn't know what was writ­ten in the Face­book page of Mayor To­mas Os­meña un­til I read that op­po­si­tion coun­cilors were think­ing of su­ing the lat­ter for us­ing foul lan­guage in his FB ac­count when he de­scribed the smell of a woman's gen­i­talia. In fair­ness to Mayor Os­meña, he al­ready apol­o­gized for this faux pas and had the item stricken off his FB. But as they say, the deed has been done and whether an apol­ogy is enough is some­thing to pon­der about.

In­deed, I have long sus­pected that it was not Mayor Os­meña who per­son­ally han­dles his FB ac­count. In fact, I too was sub­jected to foul lan­guage when I wrote an ar­ti­cle about his be­ing au­tho­rized to bor­row P3 bil­lion from Land Bank of the Philip­pines. Mayor Os­meña replied to that col­umn ques­tion­ing whether I was al­ready men­tally de­ranged. In truth only ra­dio com­men­ta­tors use such ugly lan­guage and yes Mayor Os­meña never apol­o­gized to me for us­ing such lan­guage.

I hope Mayor Os­meña learns his les­son here. That ei­ther he han­dles his FB ac­count him­self or drop it be­cause if he con­tin­ues to al­low an­other per­son to han­dle the ac­count when it ap­pears in his FB ac­count then he must ac­cept that it comes from him and not blame any­one else.

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