I have been asked to write about Presi dent Duterte from a foreigner’s point of view. For me this is probably a lose-lose assignment. First, I am not exactly the foreigner who should be speaking for all other foreigners. In fact, more foreigners disagree with me, on most subjects, than Filipinos. Second, I have even less right to criticize or meddle in the internal affairs of the Philippines than President Obama who had none. Finally, no matter how carefully I craft this piece, I am almost guaranteed to insult my host and irritate many Filipino readers. That having been said, I ignorantly blunder ahead. Nobody ever accused me of being smart.
I respect and admire President Duterte. He is one of the bravest, most patriotic men in my memory and I have known several American medal of honor winners. The “Aegean Stables” needed cleaning badly. It was a dirty, dangerous, life threatening job but Duterte never hesitated. He stepped up knowing it could likely cost him his life. The very definition of a patriot.
When President Duterte ordered the withdrawal of American troops I also understood. I might not have gone that far but America’s paternalism and hand-me-down policies insulted the very people that were supposed to be their “partners”. Condescension is not a good foreign policy.
History proves Filipino warriors are exceptionally brave. There is no doubt they will eventually prevail in the Sulu War and might even obtain a “Peace Treaty”. Unfortunately history also proves “bombs, bullets, blood and treaties” alone will not win a lasting victory. President Duterte only has half the answer and wont listen to advice from those of us who have the real answer.
The war on drugs is long overdue. President Duterte did not lie to the people. He told the voter exactly what and how he would solve this “cancer”. The people gave him a mandate. My problem with his solution is a band-aid on that cancer not a permanent solution. It does not solve the problem. The Philippine justice system is broken and until you repair that system the cancer survives.
Finally I worry about President Duterte’s changing partners. While America has its flaws, they are repairable flaws. These new friends are much more dangerous. EXAMPLE During the Vietnam War China supported North Vietnam. They gave them billions in war supplies and even battlefield advisors. They were friends and supporters. Yet just three years after the war(1979) they tried to invade Vietnam. They tried to make Vietnam part of China. Not too long ago China took over a Vietnamese island. When Vietnam objected China killed 37 (?) Vietnamese. China is already building military bases in Philippine waters. China is gaining 17 trillion DOLLARS of Philippine oil. The Chinese have taken possession of traditional and legally Philippine fishing waters. The price of locally caught fish has tripled. They are stripping the sea of fish and irreplaceable coral; destroying Philippine fish breeding grounds. Not sure I would trust these new “friends”(?).
Old Green Beret saying: “Never try to bed down with a hungry tiger unless you have a secret desire to be tiger lunch”.