Posts Tagged ‘Peter Cayetano’

Philippines: Duterte admin’s appeasement policy on China causing a crisis?

September 22, 2018

Last month, President Rodrigo Duterte conveyed to his countrymen that he expected China to be fair on the South China Sea dispute and that they should accept Beijing as a good neighbor.

“I am sure that in the end, China will be fair and the equity will be distributed,” he said. He predicted that “in the days to come, we would realize that China… is really a good neighbor.”

Renato Cruz De Castro ( – September 22, 2018 – 12:29pm
Image may contain: 4 people, people standing
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and China’s Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua

Duterte’s (misplaced) good faith on China is consistent with his administration’s appeasement policy, which is in turn embodied by his and his foreign affairs and defense officials’ concerted efforts to foster closer relations with the rising superpower, alongside calculated moves to pivot away from the United States and its allies (Japan and Australia), over the South China Sea disputes, in particular, and in other international issues, in general.

The Philippine public, however, does not share Duterte’s benign and patronizing view of China. Opposition figures and left-wing organizations have criticized the Duterte administration for not publicly raising alarm and indignation over Chinese efforts to militarize the land features it occupies in the South China.

Two prominent American analysts rightly observed that “expert and media commentaries in the Philippines tend to highlight the dangers and obstacles regarding his infatuation with China and animosity towards the U.S.”

A fragile rapprochement? 

The Duterte administration’s appeasement policy is based on a quid pro quo with China and would result in the unraveling of his predecessor’s balancing policy on China’s maritime expansion in the South China Sea. This was in exchange for Chinese moderation in their actions vis-à-vis the Philippines and, more significantly, the infusion of Chinese investment and aid for the Duterte administration’s massive infrastructure program called “Build, Build, Build.”

The siege of Marawi City in 2017 and the revelation of the Philippine military’s weakness vis-à-vis the Islamic militants provided the United States an opportunity to bring the Philippines back “onside, rather than pushing [it] further to China’s embrace.”

No automatic alt text available.

The U.S. supported the Philippines in the two countries’ mutual interests of counter-terrorism and Humanitarian Assistance and Risk Reduction.

Consequently, the U.S. assistance to the Philippines during and after the siege of Marawi City strengthened the pro-American elements in the government and military, providing them opportunities to mitigate Duterte’s efforts to separate from Washington and to gravitate closer to China.

In early June, the Philippine government issued a formal demand for China to ask its Coast Guard to stay away from the Philippines’ traditional fishing grounds around the Scarborough Shoal and stop the harassment of Filipino fishermen off the shoal. This action was triggered by TV news reports of Chinese Coast Guard personnel boarding Filipino fishing vessels, inspecting the fishermen’s catch, and then confiscating their best catch.

In late July, the Philippine government expressed concern over the increase in offensive Chinese radio warnings against Philippine aircraft and ships flying and sailing near reclaimed and fortified islands in the South China Sea.

An  internal Armed Forces of the Philippines report leaked to the Associated Press revealed that Philippine Air Force planes patrolling the South China Sea have received at least 46 warnings from Chinese naval outpost in the artificial islands, where more powerful communications and surveillance equipment have been installed along with weapons such as anti-aircraft guns and surface-to-air missiles.

China is also withholding the funds it promised Duterte when he visited Beijing in October 2016. During that visit, he collected US$24 billion in investment pledges to finance his administration’s ambitious five-year infrastructure agenda.

However, according to a study by Alvin A. Camba of Johns Hopkins University in Washington D.C., of the US$24-billion pledges made in 2016, US$15 billion were negotiated between private businessmen that were eventually modified or canceled. The rest of the projects have been stalled because they are hard to implement such as rail networks and irrigation dams.

In mid-August, a delegation of Filipino ranking officials led by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez went to Beijing to discuss China’s funding of several infrastructure projects under the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling

Both sides agreed on a two-stage funding program (first and second baskets) for Chinese loan financing. This means that while Chinese funds would be available to finance the administration’s infrastructure projects, the money will be disbursed on a staggered basis and on Beijing’s terms.

Crisis in the appeasement policy on China?  

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano has affirmed the Duterte administration’s goal for the Philippines and China to agree on a joint development arrangement that will enable the two disputing states to come up with a scheme to utilize the natural resources in the South China Sea for mutual benefits.

However, stung by the Filipino public’s negative view on the government’s appeasement policy and by China’s refusal to keep its end of the bargain, Cayetano revealed that the Philippines has informed China of four “red lines” in the two countries’ territorial disputes. He also threatened to resign from office if the Philippines will lose additional territory to China under his watch as foreign secretary.

On 15 August, Duterte openly criticized China for its island-building activities and called on it to temper its behavior in the South China Sea. This was his strongest comment on China since he pursued an appeasement policy in late 2016.

China, however, sharply rebuffed him by asserting that it “has a right to take the neces-sary steps to respond to foreign aircraft and ships that deliberately get close to or make incursions into air and waters near China’s relevant islands.”

Philippine-China relations in the twenty-first century has undergone periods of ups and downs. It experienced a golden age during President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s term. The relationship became problematic and toxic during President Benigno Aquino’s presidency. These recent developments indicate that Philippine-China relations under the Duterte administration might again undergo this cycle of ups and downs.

As one Chinese pundit observes: “As for China, the periodic swing of Sino-Philippine relations means China should remain cautiously optimistic. On the one hand, China should take advantage of this chance to bolster relations with Manila. On the other hand, Beijing should remain wary of historic fluctuations in the relationship.”


Dr. Renato Cruz de Castro is a trustee and convenor of the National Security and East Asian Affairs Program of the Stratbase ADR Institute, a partner of



No automatic alt text available.

China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law. Vietnam has been unable to develop its own undersea oil due to China’s aggressive behavior.


Can The Philippines Ever Have Its Own Foreign Policy Again?

April 20, 2018

Image may contain: 2 people, suit

 / 05:36 AM April 20, 2018

To hear Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano talk about Philippine-Chinese relations is to hear the whiny sound of surrender and subservience. In Cayetano’s view, the landmark arbitral tribunal ruling in 2016 that gave the Philippines a sweeping legal victory over China over disputed parts of the South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea is not a sign of strength but, rather, a source of weakness.

After all, what does the following statement, from the former senator with a reputation for articulate rhetoric, really mean, but that smoother relations with China are a higher priority than defending Philippine sovereign rights? “As of now, if we compare the Aquino administration strategy and the Duterte strategy, we simply are making do with a bad situation but we have stopped the bleeding.” Only someone who sees the strain in bilateral relations because of the filing and the winning of the case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration as more important than the actual legal victory itself would think that the Philippines was in “a bad situation” post-July 12, 2016.

The exact opposite is true: Our side in the dispute with China was never stronger than on the day the arbitral tribunal issued an award that was an almost complete vindication of Philippine claims. Only someone who thinks that pleasing China meets a greater public interest than enforcing the legal victory so painstakingly won at The Hague would say that, today, “we have stopped the bleeding.” There is a term for this, and it is appeasement.

The foreign secretary makes the situation worse, undermines even further the Philippine position regarding its own rights to the West Philippine Sea and its jurisdiction over parts of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, by adopting the Chinese perspective hook, line, and sinker. “Yes, we want to fight for what is ours but we don’t want a war. And no one in our region wants a war because no one will win.” This is the Chinese view, that the only alternative to settling the disputes is through a war. This is simply not true; it is also, essentially, un-Filipino. Which makes us ask: Whose interests does the Honorable Alan Peter Cayetano, secretary of foreign affairs of the Republic of the Philippines, really represent?

There is an alternative to war, and that is the process which the Philippines helped set up: a regime of international law governing maritime and territorial disputes. That is the process  which the Philippines won, despite China’s bullying and its demonization of the international law system. That is the process which allows smaller countries an almost equal footing with the great powers. And that is the process which, unaccountably, this administration’s lawyers shortchange, subvert, sell out.

Consider these words of wisdom from Cayetano: “China has not asked us, and I can tell you this very honestly whether closed door or in open, they have never asked us to give up our claims. They have simply asked us to put some order in how we will discuss these claims and where we should discuss these claims.” He speaks, not as a public servant of the Filipino people, but the servant of the Chinese government.

Assume for the sake of argument that what Cayetano said is in fact the case; why should we follow China’s proposed order in discussing our rights? Indeed, why should our foreign secretary mindlessly repeat the Chinese line that our claims are still in dispute—when the arbitral tribunal has already and convincingly ruled in our favor? (Let Beijing say these are mere claims; Manila should assert them as vindicated rights.) Even more to the point: Why privilege what China wants (“China has not asked us …”)? The real question is: What does the Philippines ask, when it meets with China?

If it’s only money, through expensive loans or dubious investments, then we really should all worry that Beijing has landed military cargo aircraft on Mischief or Panganiban Reef. We are trading our sovereign rights, inch by inch, for the proverbial filthy lucre.

Read more:
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook


Analyst: Philippines, China should abandon ‘secret diplomacy’

October 27, 2017
Foreign Ministers, from left, South Korea’s Kang Kyung-wha, Japan’s Taro Kono, Philippines’ Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, China’s Wang Yi and Singapore’s Vivian Balakrishnan walk after a family photo before the 18th ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers Meeting, part of the 50th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum (ARF) meeting in Manila, Philippines, Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. Mohd Rasfan/Pool Photo via AP

MANILA, Philippines — Manila and Beijing must be transparent in their dealings if they want to shelve sovereignty disputes and in favor of joint development, a policy analyst said.

Jeffrey Ordaniel, a research fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that the Philippines and China should learn from the  Joint Seismic Marine Undertaking (JMSU) between the Philippines, China and Vietnam in 2005.

The JMSU was supposed to be a test case for joint exploration of disputed waters, particularly the South China Sea, but it failed.

Ordaniel noted that the JMSU resulted into corruption scandals as it was directly connected to the $904.38-million NBN-ZTE broadband deal.

Manila’s “secretive diplomacy” at the time meant that there was insufficient public scrutiny prior to the signing of the JMSU, Ordaniel said.

“Secret diplomacy could result in unpleasant surprises, and legal challenges in the Philippines,” Ordaniel said in his article published by the CSIS on its website.

The policy analyst stressed that Manila and Beijing should avoid a repeat of the JMSU fiasco.

“When Cayetano told the press that he should not talk publicly about the matter and that joint exploration initiatives could be part of other cooperation agreements with China, it sounded like JMSU all over again,” he said.

Beijing, on the other hand, should refrain from linking development deal to joint exploration as the South China Sea dispute should be separate from overall China-Philippines relations.

The Philippines could turn to other overseas development assistance such as Japan if China will continue to link its deals to development loans and investment pledges, Ordaniel said.

“Finally, joint development in the South China Sea should begin in areas that are outside disputed EEZs but are within the nine-dash lines,” Ordaniel said.

Pursuing joint exploration outside disputed exclusive economic zones would not violate each other’s domestic laws and the UN Convention on the law of the sea, according to the analyst.

“For instance, there is a sizable maritime space in the Spratlys that is outside the EEZ of any littoral state in the South China Sea, per the July 2016 ruling, and which was covered by the JMSU,” he said.

Last month, state-owned Philippine National Oil Company and China National Offshore Oil Corporation signed a deal intending to follow their 2006 agreement on hydrocarbon exploration in the South China Sea.

The deal, however, does not cover Beijing’s so-called nine-dash line claim over the disputed waters.

RELATED: ‘Duterte wants joint exploration with China’



Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary: All suspects killed in police ops were drug dealers — ‘Can we trust the Philippine police?’ — Philippine Government seen as “not trustworthy” in Al Jazeera interview

October 7, 2017
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano defended anew President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war by making a sweeping claim that all 3,800 people killed under the deadly crackdown were all drug dealers. Screen grab from Al Jazeera’s YouTube video

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano defended anew President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war by making a sweeping claim that all 3,800 people killed under the deadly crackdown were all drug dealers, contradicting the Philippine National Police itself and several surveys.

Police data show 3,850 have “died in police operations,” suggesting these are drug suspects who engaged arresting officers in shootouts.

READ: PNP: 6,225 drug-related deaths, no extrajudicial killings

To be sure, the PNP uses the term “suspects” when referring to the fatalities. Under the Philippine law, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

But when asked by British journalist Mehdi Hasan during a recent Al Jazeera interview if “every single one” of the 3,850 casualties in the drug war was a “criminal drug dealer,” Cayetano said: “Yes.”

Quizzed by Hasan about his basis for his claim considering Manila’s supposedly “not democratic way” of solving crime, Cayetano evaded the question and instead defended the police.

“You’re absolutely saying it as if you’re not on the ground,” Cayetano told Hasan, who, in turn, stressed that under normal procedures, drug suspects must be charged and tried first.

In response, Cayetano said: “So you mean in the US or in any country your show is shown, if someone pulls a gun on the police they have to bring them to court first before they fire back? The police are doing what they can.”

Duterte, who easily won the race to Malacañang last year on a brutal law-and-order platform, has stoked international alarm for activating his fierce anti-drug campaign.

Human rights watchdogs said most of the fatalities are extrajudicial killings committed by cops and unknown assailants—a claim that the government has vehemently denied by insisting that police are only killing in self-defense while gangsters are silencing potential witnesses.

But according to a latest Social Weather Stations poll, more than half of Filipinos believe that many of the victims killed by police in the government’s anti-drug campaign did not really put up armed resistance, contrary to the claims of authorities.

A separate SWS poll, meanwhile, revealed that seven out of 10 Filipinos are anxious that they, or anyone they know, might become victims of extrajudicial killings.

READ: SWS: Vast majority of Filipinos think drug suspects should be captured alive | SWS: Majority of Filipinos think ‘nanlaban’ victims didn’t really fight back

In the same interview with Al Jazeera, Cayetano maintained that there are no cases of summary executions in the country.

He also hit the supposed spread of wrong facts in the international community by human rights groups “associated” with the opposition and the Church.

“The point is Filipinos will not support human rights violations. We’re very spiritual people. Whether Muslim or Christian—Filipinos believe in the dignity of life,” he said.

Filipinos have mostly backed Duterte’s drug war even as critics condemned the alleged extrajudicial killings by cops. But the recent deaths of three teenagers in the country’s capital have triggered rare street protests and highlighted concerns about alleged police abuse.

READ: Child killings spark calls for UN probe — Human Rights Watch

‘Can we trust the Philippine police?’

Duterte early this year halted the drug operations nationwide, cussing the PNP as “corrupt to the core.”

He said 60 percent of the 160,000-force was rotten, needing retraining or booting out. A month-long lull followed, but the crackdown was later resumed.

READ: Bato suspends drug war for ‘internal cleansing’ of PNP | Duterte brings back police into war on drugs

Asked if the PNP can be trusted in carrying out the drug war considering the president’s previous diatribes against cops, Cayetano, in the same interview with Hasan, said Duterte was just using his colorful language.

“Last time I checked, hyperbole and figures of speech are allowed,” Cayetano told Hasan.

“We’re not saying we should trust them, we said we should follow the law which is presumption of regularity but investigate,” he added.

“The point is he’s (Duterte) trying to clean up the police and he admits that there is a problem.”

Asked by Hasan if all drug-related deaths are being investigated, Cayetano replied that “every single one” is under probe.

“Most independent observers have said they there have not been investigations of all those killings,” Hasan retorted.

“Independent investigators have seen the progress. It is the ideological and biased human rights groups,” Cayetano countered Hasan.

According to an updated police data, there are 2,290 “deaths under investigation,” which have already been determined to be “drug-related.”


Mass Murder in the Philippines Reaches The International Criminal Court — Duterte’s anti-crime campaign is about murder of mostly poor young men, lawyer says

April 25, 2017
 2  21 googleplus0  1

Lawyer Jude Sabio holds a 77-page complaint outside the International Criminal Court in The Hague yesterday.

MANILA, Philippines – The lawyer of a self-confessed hit man of the so-called Davao death squad (DDS) yesterday filed a complaint before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague against President Duterte and 11 other officials for alleged crimes against humanity in the course of a nationwide crackdown on drugs.

Jude Josue Sabio, the lawyer of ex-DDS hit man Edgar Matobato, filed the 77-page complaint titled “The Situation of Mass Murder in the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte: The Mass Murderer” before the office of ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

In a Senate inquiry last year, Matobato accused Duterte of masterminding the killings of over a thousand criminal suspects and opponents when the latter was mayor of Davao City.

Aside from Duterte, other officials included in the communication for violating different provisions of the Rome Statute are Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II; Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa; Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez; former interior secretary Ismael Sueno; Supt. Edilberto Leonardo; Senior Police Officer 4 Sanson Buenaventura; Supt. Royina Garma; National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Dante Gierran; Solicitor General Jose Calida and Senators Richard Gordon and Alan Peter Cayetano.

The Rome Statute is the treaty that established the ICC, the first permanent international court responsible for trying perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression, which are the Statute’s four core international crimes.

The Philippines is a state party to the Rome Statute, together with 123 other state parties, after ratifying it in August 2011.

The ICC steps in only when the state is unable or unwilling to stop the perpetration of the crimes.

Sabio said he filed the complaint to hold Duterte accountable “in the name of international criminal justice, and to once and for all end this dark, obscene, murderous and evil era in the Philippines,” as key government institutions had failed to act on the cases of extrajudicial killings.

“All in all, the ‘repeated, unchanging and continuous’ mass murder being conducted by Duterte has already resulted in the deaths of not less than 1,400 individuals in Davao City under his Davao death squad and not less than 7,000 individuals in his war on drugs (on) the national level,” the complaint read.

“His strategy, system or policy of crime control then in Davao City was to ‘erase’, eliminate or kill suspected criminals such as snatchers, robbers, and drug pushers/addicts through his now infamous Davao death squad. Even while Duterte is already President of the Philippines, his system or strategy of erasing, eliminating and killing persons suspected of crimes is still, in fact, being undertaken in Davao City up to the present,” it stated.

Sabio asked the ICC prosecutor to conduct a preliminary examination and a formal investigation leading to the issuance of a warrant of arrest against Duterte and the 11 other officials for their detention pending their trial “in order to prevent them from continuing with the commission of mass murder and to prevent them from killing potential victims and witnesses.”

The complaint cited 10 similarities in the extrajudicial killings done in Davao City by the DDS and the summary executions happening now, including “the element of police participation and command”; the presence of a hit man or an unknown armed assailant; the inclusion of a cash reward system for every killing and the existence of a “kill watchlist.”

“Sixth, there is collaboration between barangay and police officials; seventh, there is the cardboard sign and the face/body wrapped in packing tape; eighth, there is the use of ‘riding in tandem’ motorcycle-riding assailants; ninth, there is the use of hooded or masked assailants and tenth, there is the planting of a gun and drugs,” it said.

The complaint also cited Duterte’s “‘I will kill you’ mental state,” as well as his claimed “best practices” in fighting crime through summary executions.

To bolster the allegations, the complaint also relied on the testimonies of retired police officer and self-confessed DDS member Arthur Lascañas, who also testified last March before the Senate, confirming Matobato’s claims.

Senators, however, found Lascañas as having no credibility after he testified last year and denied the existence of the DDS when Matobato accused Duterte of spearheading extrajudicial killings.

Lascañas left the country earlier this month for Singapore with his family, saying he feared for his life.

The complaint also cited the petition filed by a certain Ernesto Avasola, who petitioned the courts in 2009 to exhume alleged remains of victims of the DDS in Davao City.


The complaint also lamented that the Senate had failed to act as a check against the extrajudicial killings despite having conducted at least two inquiries into the summary executions connected to Duterte’s war on drugs.

Sabio contended that the Senate is not expected to seek Duterte’s accountability, as it is dominated by his allies even as he recounted in detail the political shifts in the chamber, including the events leading to the detention of Sen. Leila de Lima on drug charges, the stand of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV against extrajudicial killings and the ouster of members of the Liberal Party from the majority bloc.

“In turn, this unwillingness or inability of the Senate can be interpreted to mean as a direct intention to obstruct justice with the aim of shielding Duterte from being exposed to criminal liability,” Sabio stated.

Except for Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, who described the complaint as “wild,” other senators declined to issue statements or could not be reached for comment.

“Crimes against humanity? Drug pushers fighting back against police operations are now called humanity?” Sotto said in a text message.

Bensouda said that last year, her office was following developments in the Philippines “with a view to assessing whether a preliminary examination needs to be opened.”

“I am deeply concerned about these alleged killings and the fact that public statements of high officials of the Republic of the Philippines seem to condone such killings and further seem to encourage state forces and civilians alike to continue targeting these individuals with lethal force,” she said.


JAKARTA, Indonesia — A Filipino lawyer asked the International Criminal Court in The Hague on Monday to charge President Rodrigo Duterte and 11 other Philippine officials with mass murder and crimes against humanity in the killings of thousands of people over three decades.

The lawyer, Jude Josue Sabio, said in a 77-page complaint that Mr. Duterte was the “mastermind” of a campaign that has killed more than 9,400 people, mostly poor young men, since 1988, when Mr. Duterte was first elected mayor of Davao City in the southern Philippines.

“The situation in the Philippines reveals a terrifying, gruesome and disastrous continuing commission of extrajudicial executions or mass murder from the time President Duterte was the mayor of Davao City,” the complaint says.

Mr. Sabio represents two men who say they were paid assassins for Mr. Duterte when he was mayor of Davao City, but filed the case on his own. The court has the authority to accept cases brought by individuals as well as by nations and the United Nations Security Council.

Mr. Duterte was elected president last year after pledging to kill criminals as part of what he called a war on drugs. Since taking office last June, he has repeatedly urged the police to kill suspects and has promised to protect or pardon police officers who are prosecuted.

According to police statistics, more than 4,000 people have been killed by the police in antidrug operations or by vigilantes in drug-related cases since Mr. Duterte became president. Mr. Sabio’s complaint puts that number at more than 8,000.

In addition, the complaint cites the killings of more than 1,400 people who Mr. Sabio and rights advocates say were killed over 28 years in Mr. Duterte’s anti-crime campaign in Davao City.

The complaint also names Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre; the national police chief, Ronald dela Rosa; House of Representatives Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez; and two senators, Peter Cayetano and Richard Gordon.


Read the rest: