MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte has moved the Philippines away from the usual foreign policy and in turn "defined national interest", a political analyst said Friday.
Retired political science professor at the University of the Philippines Clarita Carlos said noting that Duterte had “his own way” of tracking foreign policy.
“He moved us away from the usual foreign policy where we are so linked to American politics. That means he had his own way of tracking our foreign policy and we are neither pro-China, pro-Russia or anti-this and that,” Carlos told the Philippine News Agency in a phone interview.
“We are really what is good for us, he defined our national interest and our national interest is to get all those eight million domestic workers home. That means to create jobs. That’s what he’s been doing since,” she added.
Carlos, who is also a consultant for Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, said that despite what critics’ say, she believed that Duterte has been serious about "losing his seat as president. "
“He doesn’t mind if he loses his job. He keeps on saying that. He has the political guts. The commitment might be there but of if you don’t have the courage it’s nothing also,” Carlos said.
Carlos acknowledged that not all of the reforms under the current administration have been successful but said that the chief executive has only been in office for only one and a half years.
She also reminded the public that it was worthy to note that the current ills of the country have been long-standing problems.
“It will take some time, remember we are still one a half years’ time to this administration. There are many, many other things which we needed to change. Transport for one, there’s a lot to be done there,” Carlos said.
“But let’s not be in a hurry because all these things which are ills of our society have been planted there for decades already,” she added.
Carlos, meanwhile, welcomed Duterte’s visit to India to attend the 2018 India-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Commemorative Summit noting that it was part of his efforts to push for an economic alliance.
“Where is he right now? In India and it seems like India, the US, Australia and Japan are trying to form a quad-alliance and that’s not a political or military alliance, that’s really an economic alliance and it’s best for us to link ourselves with this type of alliance since India will have the biggest population and that’s a huge market,” Carlos said.
Time for federalism
Carlos said that if it were not for Duterte’s political guts, then the proposal to shift into a federal form of government might not happen.
“We really have to federalize especially since a lot of things that we will do when we compete in the ASEAN regional integration would be localized for most part,” Carlos said, describing the Philippine hosting of last year’s ASEAN Summits as putting the country “on the center of regional states.”
“There will be advantages, there will be disadvantages but there will be more pluses than minuses because we’ve had a unitary system since the time of Spanish colonization,” she added.
Although Duterte, a federalism advocate, said that Filipinos "might not be ready for a new form of government" despite the fact that it was needed, Carlos said that nobody could tell when the Philippines would be ready.
“Nobody knows when we are ready. Was Europe ready for the European Union? We cannot set a date and say ‘okay we’re ready for this,” Carlos said.
”You go through certain steps and you’re ready. No one is ready, you have to take the bull by its horns and go for it, make sure there are more pluses than minuses,” she added.
Essence of democracy
While entitled to their own opinions, Carlos said that it was wrong to think that there is a “darkness” that envelops the nation under the current administration.
"Maybe they’re entitled to their opinion. What can we do? I don’t think that is the case especially if you know what all the president’s cabinet members have been doing in their own respective departments,” Carlos said.
“They have a right to say that. Whether they have a basis for saying so, I don’t think so,” she added.
She made this remark in response to the recent statement of Vice President Leni Robredo where she rallied her partymates in the Liberal Party to remain hopeful in face of darkness shrouding the nation.
Carlos said that results of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) 2017 Fourth Quarter Survey showed that the president has regained his “excellent” trust rating at 83 percent.
“Maybe because the public would see that the President is working very hard and is trying to his best to solve many, many of our challenges. The public are several public. It’s not that there is just only one public but these several public seem to feel that things are moving for them, maybe not as fast as they want to but yes, things are changing,” Carlos said.
She also said that it was not necessary to question the surveys noting that the survey was conducted among a sample that was representative of 107 million Filipinos. (PNA)