Duterte’s foreign policy making PH lose allies
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