Beyond the bravado: Duterte’s ‘promise’ of an ‘independent’ foreign policy
President Duterte must be very proud of himself for thinking that he made his critics believe he would actually ride a jet ski to the Spratly Islands to challenge China on its claim over the West Philippine Sea, which he said was a “pure campaign joke” as he sought to win the presidency in 2016. Senate President Vicente Sotto III backed this up by saying that he “knew it was a joke,” because he was supposedly a jet skier himself.
Of course, we knew it was a joke. Who would think that the Chief Executive would pull off such a stunt, especially at his age? Even his supporters would find it impossible. What the Filipino people held on to was his promise to pursue an independent foreign policy. The jet ski bravado would have not resurfaced had Mr. Duterte made efforts to defend our sovereignty and protect our fisherfolk and our natural resources against China.
As it turns out, the tough-talking Mr. Duterte is not so tough after all. Instead of asserting the Philippines’ legal victory over China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016, he dismissed it as just a “piece of paper” that can be thrown away. And when retired Supreme Court senior associate justice Antonio Carpio accepted his challenge to a debate, he backed out and assigned his mouthpiece to represent him. This came as no surprise, knowing that he does not only lack the basic debating skills, but also that he really has no intention to oppose his imperialist masters. Now that is—to quote Sen. Ronald dela Rosa—Mr. Duterte “plain and simple.”
Daniel Aloc,[email protected]
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