Duterte’s for­eign pol­icy mak­ing PH lose al­lies

The Nation - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

It has al­most been over a year since Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte de­clared his “in­de­pen­dent for­eign pol­icy”. This pol­icy has been var­i­ously de­scribed as “iso­la­tion­ist”, “anti-American”, and even “pro- Chi­nese”. Some sug­gest that the anti-American slant is a re­sult of just a petty per­sonal grudge by the pres­i­dent over the re­jec­tion of a US visa ap­pli­ca­tion some years back. Former na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser Jose Al­monte tried to put some sense into it. He de­fined it “as not for or against any­body but equidis­tant to ev­ery­one”. If Al­monte’s def­i­ni­tion is ac­cepted, then we have, ef­fec­tively, a pol­icy of non­align­ment.

What­ever may be the true in­ten­tions of its ar­chi­tect, where has this pol­icy led us to so far? Pres­i­dent Duterte has con­tin­u­ally bad­mouthed our American and West­ern Euro­pean al­lies. He re­jected their aid and loan of­fers for “in­ter­fer­ing in our do­mes­tic af­fairs” through their calls for a stop to the drug war killings and for full ob­ser­vance of hu­man rights. At this point, it is still un­clear whether in­vest­ments from our (former) al­lies have shied away from the coun­try, but it is re­ported that a num­ber al­ready do­ing busi­ness here are with­hold­ing ex­pan­sion plans. A wait-and­see at­ti­tude ap­pears to be in place. This is not good news for our econ­omy.

It was re­ported that Pres­i­dent Duterte was not in­vited to the G20 Sum­mit in Ham­burg, Ger­many, last July 7- 8 even as tra­di­tion holds that the Asean chair­per­son is an­nu­ally in­vited to at­tend. His two pre­de­ces­sors as Asean chair­per­sons – the prime min­is­ters of Laos and Malaysia – were in­vited dur­ing their terms.

It is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly clear that Duterte’s world – and with it, the na­tion’s – is shrink­ing fast. He has be­come a pariah to our former clos­est al­lies.

On the other side of the ledger, friend­ship with China is an avowed pil­lar of Duterte’s for­eign pol­icy. And how bet­ter to prove this than the pack­age of loans to­talling $24 bil­lion that Duterte came home with from his state visit to China. But as the say­ing goes: Be­ware of friends bear­ing gifts. So­cioe­co­nomic Plan­ning Sec­re­tary Ernesto Per­nia an­nounced that China’s Of­fi­cial De­vel­op­ment As­sis­tance loans will carry a rate of 2-3 per cent (where Ja­pan’s ODAs will charge less than 1 per cent).

We should hold no il­lu­sions that we are now on the friendly side of China. Far from it. China wants noth­ing from us but the fol­low­ing: Dis­avow the Ar­bi­tral Rul­ing favourable to us is­sued by the Tri­bunal Court in The Hague on July 12, 2016, so that our loss of reefs and shoals now oc­cu­pied by China be­comes per­ma­nently lost to them. It is that sim­ple. Mar­i­ano S Javier Philip­pine Daily In­quirer/ANN

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