Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will pay official visits to China and Japan late next month, Reuters reported citing anonymous diplomatic sources in Manila.
Even though the Philippines’ relations with Japan are warm, those with China have long been soured over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
Briefing reporters earlier this week President Duterte said that the conflict with China over disputed islands in the South China Sea made no sense and that he would seek closer business ties with Beijing. In an interview with Sputnik Professor Shen Shishun from the Chinese Institute of International Studies said that it looked like the Philippine president was ready to put the territorial dispute on the back burner and concentrate on promoting closer mutually-beneficial trade and investment cooperation with China.
Philippine soldiers arrive at a camp after an armed encounter with members of militant group Abu Sayyaf at the village of Bongkaong on Aug 26, 2016. PHOTO by AFP
“Mending bilateral ties could be one of the high points of Mr. Duterte’s visit to China. Despite the ongoing conflict in the South China Sea all the ten ASEAN countries are on good terms with Beijing and their leaders see closer ties with China as key to solving their countries’ economic and social problems,” Professor Shen said.
Moscow University expert Alexei Fenenko said that the territorial issue could take center stage during the Philippine president’s visit to Beijing.
“China sees the Philippines as one of its biggest adversaries in the ongoing dispute in the South China Sea, and I believe that during their meeting Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping will try to minimize the risk of a military confrontation between their two countries. Such a possibility was very high in 2013 and I believe that the Chinese president will be trying to make sure that Manila refrains from doing anything that could provoke a military showdown,” Fenenko said.
“After the Philippines started buying advanced warships from the US Beijing started contemplating a preventive strike to destroy them,” he added. Washington sees the Philippines as the main element of the anti-China alliance it is now cobbling together to offset Beijing’s rising clout in the Asia-Pacific region. Manila, for its part, is staking on military cooperation with the US in its ongoing territorial dispute with China. In early September Rodrigo Duterte called his US colleague Barack Obama “a son of a bitch,” after Obama spoke about the loss of over 2,000 lives during the “war on drugs” initiated by the Philippine president.
Russian and Chinese troops practice amphibious operations together during Joint Sea 2016 in the South China Sea. Chinese (in blue camouflage) and Russian (in green camouflage) move inland with cover provided by a ZDB-05 amphibious tank. Xinhua photo
Moscow-based political scientist Vladimir Yevseyev said that even though Barack Obama will leave the White House in November, the Americans will not forgive such badmouthing of their president. “The US never forgives anything; it respects force and only force. That’s why, by accusing Washington of meddling with his country’s affairs, the Philippine president actually gave them a reason to topple him,” Yevseyev said. He added that with bridges with America now all burned, President Duterte had no option left to him other than to seek help from China.
“I think the Chinese are already using their big leverage in Manila to gradually squeeze out the Americans. Now it all depends on how long [President Dutarte] is going to stay in power because the US will apparently be trying hard to destabilize the situation and get rid of him. This is why [Duterte] needs Beijing’s support, and I think this is why he is going to China,” Vladimir Yevseyev emphasized.
Many analysts believe, however, that Washington could advise Tokyo — its main ally in Asia – not to accept Duterte, just like it earlier recommended the Japanese to reconsider planned foreign-minister-level contacts with China amid the ongoing problems in the South China Sea.
The planned visits to China and Japan will be among Rodrigo Duterte’s first overseas trips after he took office three months ago. He is also scheduled to visit Vietnam next week.
A Chinese Coast Guard vessel (R) passes near the Chinese oil rig, Haiyang Shi You 981 (L) in the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) from the coast of Vietnam June 13, 2014. REUTERS/Nguyen Minh
A Chinese bomber near Scarborough Shoal
Duterte urged: End All US Involvement in the Philippines
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is being urged to abrogate all agreements allowing US presence in the country.
These include the US-RP Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the US-PH Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
Doing such, according to human rights alliance Karapatan, would end US intervention.
Karapatan urged Duterte following the president’s rants in the last ASEAN Leaders’ Summit, showing the past and present atrocities of the US government and military in the Philippines, especially in Mindanao.
Duterte earlier told the US soldiers in Mindanao to leave amid several documented reports of human rights violations by US troops.
The Department of National Defense, in a recent congressional budget deliberations said, there are around 107 US military personnel in Mindanao conducting various surveillance and drone operations. They include 50 US Marines, 17 US Army, 20 US Special Forces, plus US Navy and civilian personnel.
Throwing a sort of support for Duterte against the US, Karapatan said, “The US government is indeed a shameless hypocrite.”
“While displaying concern for human rights in the Philippines in its criticism of Duterte, it has an undeniable record of perpetrating and instigating the worst forms of human and people’s rights violations in the country and the world over,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.
Aside from US intervention, the human rights group also said that the government should address the continuing drug-related killings.
“He (Duterte) should call for a stop to the killings, prosecute and hold accountable perpetrators of the extrajudicial killings, including those from the police,” Palabay said.
According to Karapatan, the government should establish meaningful reforms in the living conditions of people, especially the marginalized instead of focusing on everyday killings.
“The Duterte government should effect and ensure the provision of secure jobs with living wages, decent housing, free education and health care, and land to cultivate. It is through empowering the people and helping them provide for their needs that they will veer away from drugs,” Palabay said.
Allowing the Armed Forces of the Philippines to participate in the anti-narcotics campaign, including the revival of the Philippines Constabulary, is like bringing to life another monster responsible for violence, cruelty and all types of abuses during martial law, Palabay said.
According to Karapatan, the use of the military and other mercenaries in so-called wars against drugs is a concept that was peddled by the US government in countries such as Mexico and Colombia through the Merida Initiative.
“It is a form of military intervention which justifies American military and financial support for governments to maintain and protect US political and economic influence,” Palabay said.
It has been proven that US-funded drug wars have not eliminated the drug menace, but have targeted the civilian population, Palabay added.
BEIJING — China’s next big target for construction of an artificial island in the South China Sea has long been assumed to be a cluster of rocks poking above sapphire waters near the Philippines.
For several years, Chinese Coast Guard vessels and fishing trawlers have hovered around the reef, known as Scarborough Shoal. Giant dredges, suitable for building a military base, were recently rumored to be on their way there.
But the election last spring of President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, who has since showered threats and epithets on the United States, has changed China’s calculation.
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