Presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte. AP File Photo
DAVAO CITY — Presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said Senator Antonio Trillanes IV could have committed treason in his backchannel talks with Chinese officials over the West Philippine sea claims, as he reiterated someone should answer for the loss of the Scarborough Shoal to the Chinese.
He said he was asking the Aquino government, which he referred to as the “past,” how it happened too.
“I would like to know from anybody in the executive department of the past administration why we lost the Scarborough Shoal,” Duterte said in a press briefing Monday, “I can take all the insults, the muck and garbage that is part of the territory of politics, but itong ganitong nawalan tayo ng lupa (but to lose our land), or whatever is under the water is lupa (land), I can’t take it,” Duterte said. He maintained that the contested territory “belongs to our exclusive economic zone (EEC).”
“Why is it now that we can no longer operate (there)?” Duterte, who had met foreign diplomats, including the Chinese Ambassador, at the Matina Enclaves hereMonday, said.
Duterte recalled that Trillanes initiated secret, “back-channel” talks with the Chinese government that could have only put in jeopardy the Philippine interest over the shoal.
“Trillanes went (to China) there 16 times,” Duterte said, “After the 16th visit, we have lost the Scarborough Shoal,” he added. “To me, it’s treason,” he said. “Somebody has to answer for that, it means livelihood for the Philippines, for the Filipinos, our fishermen will be deprived,” he said.
On May 6, Duterte’s partymates filed treason and espionage charges against President Aquino and Trillanes for conducting “back-channel talks” with China that allegedly “only advanced (the) interest of our Asian neighbor.”
The filing was announced two days later by Martin Diño, a member of Duterte’s party, PDP-Laban, who said the charges were filed at the Ombudsman.
Satellite image of the disputed Scarborough Shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal, which located 124 nautical miles west of the Philippines’ main island of Luzon.
“Senator Trillanes met with the Chinese 16 times, and he requested that the meeting (be) secret. In those meetings, Trillanes (mentioned) that the Philippines cannot enforce coastal protection. And that made the Chinese take an aggressive [stance] and take over our areas like Scarborough Shoal and Spratly Islands. That alone constitutes treason,” former sectoral Representative Ronald Adamat, who signed as one of the complainants, said.
Duterte’s camp said they had basis for filing the charges as China committed aggression by occupying the country’s territories, an act tantamount to waging a war.
As for the charge of espionage, China allegedly had been “emboldened” by the information “gathered from” Trillanes.
“We include the President (Aquino) because Trillanes could not have done this without the order of the President. They breached international policy. They did it without coursing their efforts through the foreign affairs department,” Adamat said in a press briefing after the filing of the charges. SFM
Senator Leila de Lima was on a rampage following Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s reported shift of the country’s foreign policy to one that involves a cosying up to China and a “separation” from the United States. De Lima described Duterte’s move during his official visit to China this week as a “whole level of betrayal”.
Mocking Duterte as “star-struck and starry-eyed,” De Lima asked if Filipinos “can expect more” from relations with two countries whose people, she said, “have limited expectations about respect for their human rights, labor law protections and, in general, freedom from violence from their own government.”
She also called him a “naïve child looking at the world through distorted lenses when it comes to a lot of things, including foreign policy,” with “a really inflated, if not delusional, view of himself as a strongman at the level of China and Russia’s leadership.”
“But that’s what you get from violently and vengefully silencing the voices that try show you reason – you deny yourself the chance to mature,” she added.
It is a bit ironic, however, the way de Lima describes the thinking Duterte applies to his government’s approach to China as one that looks at the world “through distorted lenses”.
If there is a distorted lens through which things transpiring today are being seen, it is the Cold War lens that Filipinos’ eyes remain stuck behind. Whereas in the old days, the bad guys were the “communist countries” and the good guys were the “capitalist countries”, today under the fresh light of better information and evolved ideologies, it is no longer that clear cut.
For one thing, a “communist” country like China is not really as communist as it used to be. Its brand of capitalism is now giving the capitalist orthodoxy of the West (that half of the world that the US presumes to lead) a run for the money. China is now the world’s second biggest economy and its manufacturing centre. It got to that position by evolving into a hybrid state that now defies the old lines that divided the planet during the Cold War.
Yet, the rhetoric used by those who are critical of Duterte remain consistent with the narrative of that old global order. De Lima’s sidekick in the Philippine Senate, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, for example, called Duterte a communist — as if that was necessarily a bad thing in the context of what is happening today. Again, he uses the notion of being “communist” with derision presumably in reference to the seemingly crystallising “Philippine pivot to China” thing. As mentioned earlier, the question of whether China remains “communist” in the real sense is becoming increasingly debatable.
Interestingly enough, it is really Trillanes — a convicted mutineer who sought to violently overthrow the government of former President Gloria Arroyo — who holds a track record for behaving like the stereotypical communist. Indeed, the recent protest rally in front of the US Embassy today that turned violent was instigated by the same old Filipino communist groups. These groups, while supposedly ideologically-linked to Maoist doctrine, are no more than faded relics of the so-called “communism” (if it can still be called that) practiced by China in the past.
Nonetheless, many Filipinos have been thrown into a shrieky panic over this supposed pivot away from the “old ally” towards China — and, perhaps, Russia. These are, after all, people who were brought up on Mickey Mouse cartoons, are convinced that basketball is their game, and remain America’s biggest fans in the Far East. More importantly, the Philippines, by all intents and purposes, is a country built and sustained on US aid and US capital.
So it is really not surprising that Filipinos now find themselves kicking and screaming on the perception that they are being violently dragged out of the comfy cocoon of US influence and protection. Perhaps Filipinos are just too hard-wired to not fathom the possibility that Duterte’s pivot to China marks the beginning of the Philippines’ coming back home to Asia.
President Rodrigo Duterte's trust rating and popularity may decrease sometimes but it always remains favourable.
We are aware that our president is still going through various issues and controversies regarding his way of ruling the country.
Some oppose him, while most are devoted to him.
Even though Duterte hit the headlines with his controversial comments, his supporters are always just around the corner to come to his rescue.
Why do Filipinos still support President Duterte?
Being linked to extra judicial killings and insulting foreign leaders are the main controversies that Duterte is involved in, that's why many are condemning him. Just recently, actress Agot Isidro criticized him and called him a "psychopath", blaming him for the worsening ties between the U.S. and the Philippines due to his remarks.
Duterte appeals to the masses because of his strong yet lovable aura. Despite his many offensive jokes, he never fails to show his undying love for the Philippines.
People cling to him in the hopes of turning the country around, and they believe he will based on his actions and words.
Amidst the multiple scandals Duterte is caught between, a recent satisfaction poll showed that 86% of Filipinos have "trust" in the President's performance.
His popularity called for the making of various groups such as Duterte Die Hard Supporters (DDS) and Duterte Warriors that back him up whenever people condemn him.
The support for Duterte extends to the Overseas Filipino Workers as most of them are also members of the DDS. They believe that the president is just like them, simple and hard-working. Willing to do anything for the welfare of their loved ones.
What makes Duterte unique from the past presidents we've had is also the reason why people look up to him.
Known for his radical decisions and guts, Filipinos believe they have never seen such bravado from other politicians who came before.
It is with no doubt that the President is reinforced by a solid battalion of supporters that have his back no matter what. This shows that Duterte draws a great deal of respect from Filipinos, so much that even all of his scandals might not be enough to tear him down.
It's uncanny that the mainstream media are making a big deal of President Duterte's so-called "pivot" to China. In the history of the world, countries "pivot" all the time as they seek to do what's best for themselves and not what's best for those outside of them. Japan and Germany were vicious Axis powers during World War II, but ended up closely allied with the US henceforth. Did the media make a big deal out of that? And the former Soviet Union and the US were Allied powers during the same war, before the Soviets decided to challenge US dominance.
What's worse, the media remain in static mode on their concept of "good" and "evil:" if countries are aligned with the US, they wear the proverbial "white hat," and if not they don the "black hat" as in a stereotypical cowboy or Western film.
The prevailing mainstream media narrative is Duterte is making a "risky" move by "aligning" himself to China. Really? Is it "risky" or "deft?" Furthermore, is it so much pro-China or pro-Philippines? Is the world what it was 50-60 years ago? Are the mainstream media watching too many Hollywood movies, stuck in that Captain America versus Red Skull mode? If they are, somebody should tell them Captain America was created in the context of shoring up patriotism in the US during WWII. Those days are long gone.
Yes, Duterte's "pivot" does make news but not necessarily in the negative vein most mainstream media make it appear.
The problem in the Philippines is the crabs pounce at the slightest impulse, not realizing what they're doing is not doing the country and society any good. If there ever were a Backbiting Olympics, the Philippines would be considered runaway favorites in the gold medal tally.
For example, the crabs have been quick to label Duterte "communist" or "leftist." So what? Why is being leftist "bad" or "evil?" Being "leftist" or "capitalist" is in itself amoral. It's what one does with it which determines whether his or her actions are morally sound or not. I know countless capitalists who are rotten at the core.
It's time for a paradigm shift. We've tried "business as usual" for decades and we've gone from one of the most respected nations to a near basket case. It's time we reclaim our rightful place in the world. Duterte is trying to make that happen.