PRESIDENT Duterte’s official trip last week to Russia combined with his two visits to China — both adversaries to the US in different degrees at different times and different spheres — marks the dawning of a new era for our nation: Independence from the US, which has subjugated the country in various forms since it aborted our freedom at the turn of the century.
Unless the Yellow Cult manages by some miracle to grab power and reverse Duterte’s assertion of our sovereignty, that is. After all, the Yellow Cult’s founders Ninoy and his widow, President Cory, as well as their son Noynoy, were so slavish to the US.
Think about it. The President’s official visits abroad signal our stance in our relationship to the world, and especially to its superpowers. In the case of Corazon Aquino, the dust of the EDSA Revolution had hardly settled before she made her first official visit to the US, practically acknowledging her indebtedness to the Americans for putting her in power. Her son Benigno 3rd’s first trip abroad as a president was to the US, a few months after he assumed power.
Has Duterte visited the US? No, and I don’t think he ever will, the first Philippine president who would not “report” as a vassal to the superpower.
Duterte’s two visits to China made him an easy target of the Yellows’ black propaganda, that he was the Asian superpower’s puppet. However, his forging of close ties to Russia last week, given the existing strong economic and cultural ties with the US, put us equidistant, as it were, to the world’s three competing superpowers, a pose that announces to the world: “The Philippines cannot be a vassal of any state,” an assertion depicted in an inspired Manila Times editorial cartoon.
Duterte in fact announced his “pivot” to independence early in his administration. In his first visit to China in October 2016, in of all places, Beijing, he said in a speech at a forum in the Great Hall of the People, attended by Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli: “In this venue, your honors, I announce my separation from the United States…Both in military, not maybe social, but economics also. America has lost.”
Duterte even added, using his fondness for hyperbole: “I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to [President Vladimir] Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world — China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way.”
Obviously shocked after Duterte made those statements, State Department spokesman John Kirby said arrogantly: “We are going to be seeking an explanation of exactly what the President meant when he talked about separation from the US.”
This is the real reason why nearly all US media, Rappler’s Maria Ressa (an American citizen) and other entities funded by US propaganda machines have been unrelenting in claiming that Duterte and his government has been on a spree of extrajudicial killings, even spreading the outrages black-prop that he is a ruthless tyrant.
Other than the hope of creating public outrage enough to overthrow him, the US and its operatives are saying we don’t really need Duterte as he is woven of the same cloth as the other bloody ruler, Russian President Putin.
Indeed, a Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist pretending to be an expert in geopolitics in an opinion piece in an Asian newspaper even astonishingly claimed that Duterte is simply Putin’s copycat: “The Philippine leader has drawn heavily from the playbook of a man he once described as his ‘favorite hero’.” Duterte with his style of strongman governance in Davao City in the 1980s was aping somebody who was at the time a covert KGB agent in Germany?
For us to “separate” from the US is inconceivable to our elites. That same Inquirer writer for instance demonstrated such intellectual incapacity to even imagine that it is possible for us to have a foreign policy not tied to the US, when he had his column titled “Duterte’s foreign policy” contain solely blank space. Those who think so are of such small minds that it cannot comprehend the entire new world Duterte has opened up for us.
I don’t think most Filipinos know how much the US has made us its vassal since the turn of the century, even after it “gave” us independence in 1946 — which was even the result of American farm lobby that wanted assurances that Philippine agricultural products would never again enter the US duty free, which they did as a US territory.
The leaked US State Department files, CIA documents released because of the US Freedom of Information Act, and information disclosed in a 2017 PhD thesis (by Joseph Scalice at the University of California, Berkeley, titled “Crisis of Revolutionary Leadership: Martial Law and the Communist Parties of the Philippines,” 1957-1974) that accessed secret State Department data reveal that even many of our revered leaders, even the Yellow’s martyr Ninoy Aquino, even those with the reputation of being staunch nationalists, made sure to report their plans to US Embassy officials.
Thirty years after EDSA 1, we know for a fact that it was the American “Deep State” which plotted Marcos’ overthrow, in defiance of President Reagan’s earlier stance of being loyal to his “friend.” Marcos as strongman had become a risk not just in terms of fending off a communist revolution, but in losing the US military bases, whose lease was to expire in 1991.
And as I have written based not on conjecture but on hard data, our conflict with China, starting with the Scarborough Shoal stand-off up to the filing of an arbitration suit based on the UN Law of the Sea, was the result of Machiavellian maneuvering by the US that used us as a proxy.
Why was this important to the US? President Barack Obama announced and implemented the US “Pivot to Asia” policy in 2011, a move to reassert US hegemony in Asia to contain the rise of the new superpower, China, and the latter’s influence, especially in Southeast Asia, all of which are littoral states of the South China Sea.
The US “Pivot to Asia” required the demonization of China as an expansionist power in the region, an international-law ruling of sorts to make the South China Sea mostly international waters which would make it “more legal” for US warships to patrol that area to project its power, and a better system for deploying the US military from our country, in case of a war with China.
Just a year after the “Pivot to Asia” announcement, we were confronting China at Scarborough Shoal in 2012, triggered by President Aquino’s deployment against Chinese fishermen of a refurbished warship the US donated to the Philippine Navy.
Fooled by a US diplomat, we left the Shoal and thereby lost it. Aquino begged for US military intervention. He was told to instead file a case in an international venue, recommending a Washington-based top-notch law firm (Foley Hoag). With the US probably frightening him that the China might just invade the Philippines, Aquino in 2014 agreed to enter into what was euphemistically called the “Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement” which would allow the Americans to pre-position their war materiel on our military camps, so their navy and marines would have ready supplies in case of a war or a skirmish against China in the South China Sea.
In 2016, the arbitral tribunal made its ruling. Its most important ruling was that it in effect declared most of the South China Sea to be international waters.
Did it benefit us? Why, we even lost a huge tract of our exclusive economic zone and our Kalayaan Group of Islands, as I have explained in detail in previous columns. If not for Duterte’s pivot away from the US, we would have been at odds with the superpower in the region, losing the world’s biggest market, to the delight of our competitor-neighbors.
Such is the cost of subservience to the US, which Duterte is struggling to get out of.