THIS early, American President-elect Joseph Biden has articulated the Republican interventionist foreign policy that looks at other nations he describes as allies but treats them as the US vassal states.
In his post-election speech, Biden warned that America will only extend help to countries that promote democracy and human rights. In what sounded like a veiled threat he specifically mentioned Turkey, Hungary, and the Philippines as countries moving towards authoritarianism.
Biden’s victory address foretells the US foreign policy under his term. This resurrects Barrack Obama’s mindset. Remember that tactless remark he made during the ASEAN forum where he publicly called the attention of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte on alleged extrajudicial killings and human rights violations in the Philippines. Duterte who just assumed as President and was waging war against drug syndicates in the Philippines did not expect that brazen and insensitive rebuke from Obama. But Duterte was unnerved, he dished out a crisp repartee which defined in part his foreign policy that restored not only the dignity of the Philippines as a sovereign nation. This to the chagrin of western politicians who regarded the country as subservient to them.
“I am a president of a sovereign state and we have long ceased to be a colony. I do not have any master except the Filipino people, nobody but nobody,” Duterte declared. “You must be respectful. Do not just throw questions. P_ _ _ _ g i_a, I will swear at you in that forum.”
“P_ _ _ _ g i _ a” is the Tagalog expletive for son of a bitch.
If that did not bode well with the US that was music in the ears of Russia and China. Back home, pro-US politicians and self-proclaimed foreign affairs gurus chided Duterte. A bacchanalian ex-president had the gall to say that “Duterte lacks finesse”. The majority however were deliriously happy they finally have a President who can stand eyeball-to-eyeball with mighty and condescending leaders. The next events saw Pres. Rodrigo Duterte walking on the red carpet side-by-side with China’s Pres. Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Duterte enjoys an unprecedented Trust and Approval rating from the Filipino people despite the orchestrated denigration conjured by the coterie of moribund political opposition, leftist organizations, and a phalanx of propagandists here and abroad. Their banal issues revolve around extra-judicial killings, human rights violations, and yes...the Republican line ...” veering towards authoritarianism”. But they did not stop there. In another display of sheer hubris, they had the temerity to order Duterte to release an indicted and detained Sen. Leila De Lima and to withdraw the case against Filipino-American journalist Maria Ressa who had been convicted for libel.
Ressa of course had labeled the Philippines “as worse than any war zone” and “where democracy is essentially dead”. And yet Ressa opted to reside in the country.
Last week Washington-based Gallup Global Law and Order survey showed the Philippines in the same category as Australia and New Zealand as among the safest countries in the world. Comes next, Gulf News of the United Arab Emirates rating Duterte as the most famous leader in the world. Couple these with the Trust and Approval rating of 91% and you have a situation where President-elect Joe Biden’s uninformed or worse misinformed judgment that the Philippines as “moving towards authoritarianism” is totally incoherent.
I hope Joe Biden takes a second look at America’s oldest ally in this part of the globe. I hope that he will realize that we are fighting a diabolical network of drug syndicates, the CPP/NPA, Abu Sayyaf, and Jemaah Islamiyah which the USA and the European countries had dubbed as terrorist organizations. Battling these forces is far from what is contemplated in extra-judicial killing. Biden should be able to distinguish who is a friend and who are the enemies.