Philippines president-elect says won’t rely on United States


Philippine presidential candidate and Davao city mayor Rodrigo 'Digong' Duterte raised his arm by a supporter during a "Miting de Avance" (last political campaign rally) before the national elections at Rizal park in metro Manila, Philippines  May 7, 2016. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Philippine presidential candidate and Davao city mayor Rodrigo ‘Digong’ Duterte raised his arm by a supporter during a “Miting de Avance” (last political campaign rally) before the national elections at Rizal park in metro Manila, Philippines May 7, 2016. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Philippines President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday his country would not rely on long-term security ally the United States, signaling greater independence from Washington in dealing with China and the disputed South China Sea.

The Philippines has traditionally been one of Washington’s staunchest supporters in its standoff with Beijing over the South China Sea, a vital trade route where China has built artificial islands, airstrips and other military facilities.

Duterte, the tough-talking mayor of Davao City who swept to victory in a May 9 election, has backed multilateral talks to settle rows over the South China Sea that would include the United States, Japan and Australia as well as claimant nations.

He has also called on China, which claims most of the sea, to respect the 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone granted to coastal states under international law.

Asked by reporters if he would push for bilateral talks with China, Duterte replied: “We have this pact with the West, but I want everybody to know that we will be charting a course of our own.

“It will not be dependent on America. And it will be a line that is not intended to please anybody but the Filipino interest.”

Asked about Duterte’s comments at a State Department briefing, Daniel Russel, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, said the United States had “no problem whatsoever” with bilateral talks among the South China Sea claimants.

Russel noted that some disputes in the South China Sea were by their nature multilateral and could not be resolved on a bilateral basis, but added “those that can, we’re all for it.”Duterte made his comments as he was unveiling his cabinet line-up a day after a joint session of Congress declared him the election winner. He formally takes over as president on June 30.

Key ministerial appointments went mainly to conventional choices, a decision likely to allay nerves among foreign and domestic investors about a lurch away from reforms that have generated robust economic growth.

They also may point to a bid to resolve differences over the South China Sea.

The Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims to waters rich in oil and gas and through which trillions of dollars’ worth of trade pass each year.

Duterte’s pick for foreign secretary, Perfecto Yasay, has sounded a conciliatory note.

“I don’t think that there is another way of resolving this dispute except talking to each other,” Yasay told reporters this week. “We certainly would like to make sure that we are able to resume bilateral talks because these are necessary.”

NOT SO CLEAR CUT

Muddying the picture somewhat was the choice of Nicanor Faeldon, a former marine who led a coup bid about a decade ago, as head of the customs bureau, the country’s second-largest agency in terms of revenue.

In December, Faeldon took a group of Filipino protesters to a disputed island in the South China Sea that is held by the Philippines, triggering an angry response from Beijing.

Before Duterte’s election, the Philippines also took the dispute to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, although China does not recognize the case. A ruling is expected in the coming weeks.

“I am waiting for the arbitration,” Duterte said of the process, when asked about investment prospects with China.

“It will impact on us in so many fronts … I would like to wait for this, then, with the advice of the cabinet, I might be able to proceed. But you know, I am not ready to go to war. It will just result in a massacre.”

Duterte, 71, named a former school classmate, Carlos Dominguez, as finance minister, and an economics professor, Ernesto Pernia, as economic planning minister.

“I can assure you they are all men of integrity and honesty,” Duterte said in Davao, where he was mayor for more than two decades before being elected president.

Dominguez, who was mining and farm minister in two previous governments, hails from a wealthy family that has interests in real estate and hotels, while the U.S.-educated Pernia is a former lead economist for the Asian Development Bank.

“We are very excited about this cabinet,” said Perry Pe, president of the Management Association of the Philippines. “They will hit the ground running from the first day.”

Duterte’s defiance of political tradition has drawn comparisons with U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

His “man-of-the-people” demeanor tapped into voters’ disappointment at the ruling elite’s failure to tackle poverty and inequality despite average economic growth of more than 6 percent under President Benigno Aquino.

Duterte condones execution-style killings of criminals, shudders at the thought of wearing a tie or socks, and has vowed not to work until after noon when he becomes president.

Some cabinet positions have yet to be announced, and two of the 21 jobs confirmed so far are women. When a female journalist asked a question at the briefing, Duterte wolf-whistled.

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales Additional reporting by Manuel Mogato and Karen Lema in Manila; Writing by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Ian Geoghegan and James Dalgleish)

Source: Reuters “Philippines president-elect says won’t rely on United States”

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6 Comments on “Philippines president-elect says won’t rely on United States”

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  3. Fu Man-Chu says:

    THE ABSURDITY OF RULING WITHOUT ARBITRATION

    “Before Duterte’s election, the Philippines also took the dispute to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, although China does not recognize the case. A ruling is expected in the coming weeks.”

    Permanent “Court” of Arbitration? “Ruling”? Such absurdities and oxymorons of the highest order!

    “Arbitration” refers to the consensual process of achieving agreement between two disputants with the aid of a third party such as the Arbitration Tribunal. In such a case where does the “court” or “judicial” process comes in? To call itself a “Court” is an anachronism if not a joke or an absurdity. Is UN body a “Tribunal” that is persistently and wilfully wrongly stated as a “Court” by the Western and Filipino mass medias?

    On top of that if the two disputants do not even agree to arbitration in the first place, what “ruling” can there be arrived at when no consensual agreement for arbitration is arrived at in the first place. How long can the Western and Filipino propaganda bullhorns continue to blare such absurdity?

    It will be interesting to see how the so-called Permanent Court of Arbitration allows itself to be used by serial abuser Imperial Washington and Manila.Or perhaps it will show a spine. It’s response will be very telling and indicative of the kind of “judges” occupying its seats.

    Like

  4. Fre Okin says:

    Duterte have an opportunity to make Philippines a proud nation with backbone, not to be abused by allies or enemies.

    NO country is indispensable and if any of them misbehave or abuse her, she should be kicked out. Duterte should make sure Philippines is not US tool that put US interest above PH interest.

    Philippines is in danger of becoming collateral damage in any US war with China, so Duterte should make sure PH don’t get caught in a no win situation.

    This means PH should play smart, Limiting US presence in PH. This is no different from what other smart countries do: they welcome US military presence but only lip service. They also welcome Chinese presence, though with less military matters naturally. So PH should be like them, stay neutral as much as possible while crafting the best economic relationship with both US and China.

    Duterte should be especially careful to keep out All Nuclear Powered ships and subs, just like New Zealand did to prevent any nuclear accident near PH. This means no aircraft carriers, no Virginia, no Ohio subs allowed anywhere near Philippines.

    Like


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