July 26, 2017, 2:39 am
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Duterte and the world’s three superpowers

President Rodrigo Roa Deterte acknowledged the assistance extended by the United States, China and Russia to his fight against terrorists in Mindanao.

Deterte did this in a speech in Davao City last Friday. He thanked the world’s three superpowers for providing technical and arms assistance to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in its operations in Mindanao, particularly Marawi City in Lanao del Sur, against the pro-Islamic State Maute group of terrorists. .

Duterte declared that he is performing his duty as president to preserve and defend the Philippines and its people, and voiced his desire to visit Marawi City, “I have to be there before the declaration of peace.,” he said. 

He had attempted to go there twice last June 8 and July 7, but failed to do so because of bad weather. Instead he     went to Iligan City, Lanao del Norte.

Much earlier, Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana allayed fears that the Philippines “closer friendly relations” with China that this may compromise the country’s claim to territory in the West Philippine Sea.

“What we are trying to do,” Sta. Romana told news reporters at the Philippine Embassy last July 11, “is not to give us the claims and yet develop relations....This is the goal of the Duterte administration ...I don’t think we have lost an inch of territory. I think we gained”.

He recalled that in 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, The Netherlands “favored the Philippines in its dispute with China, China did not participate in the proceedings ...and has refused to accept the ruling.”

Since then, Duterte has “taken a softer stance toward the Asian giant and opted not to raise the controversial issue with China, in exchange for funding assistance for his infrastructure program and more investments and trade with China. “

Citing history, Ambassador Santa Romana said there was no point in dealing with China head on. This was the mistake of the past in brings China to court. 

The keys to negotiating with China, the envoy added, are “preparation, strategic patience, and a good negotiating team. Because the Chinese negotiate very seriously and takes time, they will try to outlast you if possible .if possible. But you try to force an issue it will result in the escalation of tension, and possibly conflict as we have known from history in the past 30 years.”

Echoing Duterte’s stance, Sta. Romana reiterated that the country should differentiate its bilateral differences from China from its actual relations. “Because if you combine it as we did it from the past couple of years,” the Philippine envoy concluded, “at least it gave an impression that we did the Chinese were accusing us of being a proxy for the United States or being a Trojan horse of the rebalance strategy. And in that case, it complicates the whole issue.”

A day later, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio criticized those who say China might wage war over the West Philippine Sea, and that one of those who raised the possibility was President. Duterte..

In a forum. Carpio last July 12 said that “the option for the Philippines is not either to talk to China or go to war with China. This is a false option, and shows a lack of understanding of international and international relations.”

Apparently, Carpio was taking a swipe at President Duterte, who, as many geopolitical experts have noted , never ever claimed that he is an expert in international law.

***

Quote of the Day: “To consider justices as the ultimate arbiters of all legal questions is a very dangerous doctrine!” --- Anon.
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