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Ex-top diplomat: Duterte’s China shift a ‘national tragedy’


    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, left, speaks during a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, unseen, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Thursday.

MANILA >> A former top Filipino diplomat, who brought the triumphant arbitration case against China over territorial disputes, said the Philippine president’s declaration to pivot away from Washington to Beijing should be regarded “a national tragedy.”

“The declared shift in foreign policy, casting aside a long-time reliable ally to hastily embrace an aggressive neighbor that vehemently rejects international law, is both unwise and incomprehensible,” said former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario today.

“What is unfolding before us must be considered a national tragedy, which does not need to happen,” he said in a statement.

The criticism by del Rosario, a respected Asian diplomat, is among the strongest so far of President Rodrigo Duterte’s publicly declared policy to back away from America, his country’s longtime treaty ally, while reaching out to China and Russia. His main political ally, former President Fidel Ramos, has also criticized Duterte’s profane tirades against President Barack Obama and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

At an economic forum Thursday in Beijing, Duterte declared “my separation from the United States … both in military and economics also.” His pronouncement was met with applause, but Duterte did not explain what he exactly intended to do and when.

His accompanying Cabinet officials tried to downplay his remarks soon afterward, saying the Philippines would not cut off trade ties with the U.S., one of the country’s largest trading partners, aid providers and a treaty ally. The differing pronouncements have stirred confusion and uncertainties.

“There is no rush for us to interpret the speech of the president,” presidential spokeswoman Marie Banaag said in a daily news briefing in Manila. “We have to wait for guidelines.”

Ahead of his China visit, Duterte made a series of pronouncements to curb Philippine security engagements with the U.S., including the removal of American counterterrorism forces in the country’s south and his opposition to planned joint patrols with the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea. He also wanted to stop annual joint combat exercises the Philippines hosted alongside the U.S. military that China opposes.

Duterte has said he did not want to embroil the Philippines in an unwinnable war with China, which could instead be tapped as a major trading partner and source of development funds.

U.S. officials said they have not received any formal Philippine notice of Duterte’s pronouncements, adding the longtime alliance benefits both countries and should continue to blossom.

As the foreign secretary of Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, del Rosario spearheaded the filing of an arbitration case that challenged the validity of China’s claims to virtually the entire South China Sea. The tribunal invalidated China’s claims under a 1982 U.N. treaty, an embarrassing defeat that Beijing has ignored.

The U.S. and its Western and Asian allies have called on China to respect the outcome.

“We must be with responsible nations with whom we share our core values of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law,” said del Rosario, who also served as Manila’s ambassador to Washington. “To stand otherwise, is not what Filipinos are, it is not what we do, it is not what is right.”

At the end Duterte’s trip Friday, both countries said in a joint statement several trade and business deals and closer cooperation on a range of concerns and added both sides resumed dialogue on the South China Sea issues.

There was no mention of the arbitration ruling or Duterte’s call for China to respect the rights of Filipinos to fish in the disputed Scarborough Shoal, where Beijing’s coast guard ships continue to block and drive them away. But both sides agreed to continue talking.

“Without prejudice to other mechanisms, a bilateral consultation mechanism can be useful, which will meet regularly on current and other issues of concern to either side on the South China Sea,” the joint statement said.

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  • If the Filipino people know whats best for them and their country, they need to step up and let their voices be heard before its too late. It appears at though they (the people of the Philippines) were in a lose lose predicament not unlike our own in the United States, in regards to electing a president. It was either bing bong Marcos (son of the previous dictator), or this clown.

  • It’s a perfect match Phillipines and China, they both are major Human Rights Violators who deserves each other. Let’s get the hell out of there and let Duterte fend for themselves militarily and economically.

  • Honestly. What were Filipino voters thinking when they elected a supot, little incompetent child to be their president? Man clearly is not a college degree carrying professional.

    Basically a thug and a bully who will take his country down a dark path.

    You voted for the idiot. Now deal with it.

    • Perhaps Duterte’s turning to Russia and China in hopes of gaining tolerance for his authoritarian strong arm tactics in order to strengthen his heavy hand–and a move away from democratic institutions.

  • Duterte is just an thug from the jungle. Like Donald Trump, he’s demagogue who knows how to stir hatred among the less fortunate, bigots, mysogonists, and uneducated. He will lead the Phillipines down a bad road and then claim it was “rigged” by the USA. Sound familiar ???

  • Your President has no respect for democracy, human rights, or the rule of law. And to think he is a lawyer. Write him off. F. Duterte and the Philippines. If the Philippines wants to restore relationships with the U.S. and its people, get rid of Duterte. Just execute him like he is executing the 1600 unconvicted “drug dealers” and users and vigilantes have execute about 2000 more. He also executed numerous peope when he was Mayor of Davao. I think feeding him to a crocodile like is alleged to have done to one of the people would be an appropriate punishment for Duterte. And video it and put it on youtube so everybody can see it.

  • It is a typical warlord tactic. Make the more dangerous, adjacent, and immediate threat an ally. Of course the US does not care if an open battle for the S. China Sea occurs since it would not be in our homeland. The Philippine military would be annihilated over night and then what? Economically China will over take the US someday maybe soon. So is this rash decision which on the surface looks like a bad mistake indeed a mistake? For who? It is strategically significant that we lose another international ally. China is also working on Taiwan which we supply arms to. Tensions are high as China and Russia seek to expand.

  • Looming crises that boils over come Nov 9, 2016……..stay tuned, the media will gin this up!

    I will go and light a candle at my Church today and pray for world peace, come join me at Fort Street Mall….I’am the one that looks like Cosmo Kramer.

  • you know if I was a Philippino National I’d be mad as well at the US. What has the US done for the Philippines? There’s still a lot of 3rd World areas there, go to youtube and find out for yourselves! Why not join up with China trying for better economics? Like TheDonald says, what do you have to lose? economically with China?

    • We need leaders that think out of the box. Obama’s subtle yet politically correct insults and economic sanctions are only creating more determined enemies rather than allies. For the status quo that want to continue to believe the earth is flat stay tuned………..

  • We should probably keep an open mind about President Rodrigo Duterte’s intentions — at least for now. Looking strictly at his interaction with China, we may want to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s trying to find the best path for the Philippines. Allowing US-China disputes to dictate the welfare of the Philippines could be disastrous for the Filipinos. Historically, treaties between countries have been at the root of conflicts, pulling countries into wars that they could ill afford. A result of Duterte’s efforts is an opening of dialogue with China, which might not have been possible if Duterte followed the US line. Whether those talks will result in gains for the Philippines remains to be seen, however. As JustMyTwoPennies suggests, Duterte may be angling for more US funds. From the PI standpoint, that’s not altogether a bad thing, especially if China also pours Yuan Renminbi into the Philippines. From the Filipinos’ standpoint, its treaty with the US may actually hurt its economy in the long run. Re Duterte’s alleged human rights violations — that’s another issue. As a leader, Duterte’s first responsibility is to his people — not to the US. That being said, hopefully Duterte is smart enough to walk the fine line between the two superpowers to get the most that he can for his country. It’s a dangerous move, yes, but if he succeeds, he may be setting a precedent, a blueprint, for other smaller countries caught between China and the US. The lesson is: If you’re smart and daring enough, you could end up playing each giant off the other and benefiting from the competition.

  • “All you people… call yourselves filipinos, indonesian, taiwanese, vietnamse, korean… in the past you were all a part of ‘mother china’, and will again. Maybe not 10 years or 50 years…but eventually, in 200-300 years you will all be part of China again…”

    This is the ridiculous mentality of the mainland china political agenda. Its taken >1000 years to develop this egocentric perspective. Take a look at the Chinese character for “China” – the character (zhong) literally means “center of the universe.” Its nuts.

    Eisenhower should have put China in its place when he had the chance.

  • Cozy up to the foreign power who just invaded your territory, chases your fishermen away, prevents you from exploiting your own natural resources, and builds a military base without your permission on your land. Wise choice to trust China. Heck, if the fishermen don’t like it, kill them like you do with the drug users you also don’t like.

  • lets see everyone is mad at the Philippine president because he is killing a lot of drug dealers, which some of the killings is wrong which we condemned what he is doing, lets look at the big picture, middle eastern countries and other Muslim countries like Indonesia kill people who are drug dealers or not, so I guess that’s all right if they do it and we don’t condemn that, Indonesia is just as bad executing people who have drugs or drug dealers the reason we allow that is that’s where are oil comes from to drive our cars.

  • The Philippines is still an independent sovereign nation. When outsiders criticize, the Philippine internal affairs, the outsiders must remember, it is their country.

    Maybe their faith & fate, in the geographically distant USA, has a broken confidence. Maybe their faith & fate, in the geographically close China, has a stronger confidence.

    Above all, the Philippine people voted for him. He can always be voted out of office.

    Since POTUS has favored Muslims throughout the world, then maybe, POTUS has given the Philippine Muslims too much say, over the Philippines.

    Above all, we must stop telling other countries, how to run their internal affairs. Otherwise, we will end up, going to their countries, to fight their internal affairs wars.

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