President Duterte visits China this week with a very clear message: you, our giant neighbor, are our great friend and you will supplant our old ally, the US. You’re in, the US is out.
Duterte has telegraphed all his punches to Beijing:
For all of Duterte’s supposed political astuteness, he has failed here, leaving our foreign policy naked. There’s nothing left for the clever and aggressive power in our region to decipher.
It has come easy to China, pulling us to their embrace. Or rather, our President has dragged us into their ambit.
How did it come to this? Wasn’t it only a few years back, in 2012, when China occupied Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal, which falls within our exclusive economic zone? They remain there, to this day, prohibiting our fishermen from plying their trade.
And yes, how can we forget! Wasn’t it only in July when the Philippines won overwhelmingly in its arbitration case versus China at The Hague? Wasn’t this supposed to be our leverage in dealing with China?
All this, however, has been buried in a remote part of Duterte’s mind.
Last week, he said he will not even whisper Scarborough to President Xi Jinping. He indicated he might strike a deal with Beijing for joint explorations for oil in the West Philippine Sea.
No less than Philippine Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio raised alarm, warning the President that conceding sovereignty to China violates the Constitution and can be grounds for impeachment.
On Sunday, October 16, before departing for his back-to-back trips to Brunei and China, Duterte gave assurances he won't bargain anything with the Asian giant. "We cannot barter what is not ours. It belongs to the Filipino people," he declared, agreeing with Carpio. But President Duterte maintained that he was not sure if he would be discussuing the Hague ruling with his Chinese counterpart.
The main agenda for this trip to China are aid, trade and investments to the Philippines, from buying our bananas and building rehabilitation centers for drug dependents.
We are not against improving relations with China. In fact, our countries have had budding security ties despite the Scarborough standoff in 2012.
But what we find short-sighted and irresponsible is that this pivot to China seems to come at the expense of our hard-won victory at The Hague.
And the last time we checked, diplomacy meant gaining friends and allies, not dumping friends and replacing them simply out of pique. Duterte made up this policy as he ambled along, to spite the US, hurt by stinging criticisms over his war on drugs that has led to more than 3,000 deaths.
This is selfish foreign policy. It serves the President by salving his ego. But it does not serve the country. – Rappler.com