In support of President Duterte*

THERE was a news item that appeared in some tabloids that former Vice Mayor Pulong Duterte included me in the list of those who are behind the ouster plot against the President. This is utterly false.

I maintain a high respect for President Duterte.

For the first time in Philippine history, we have adopted an independent foreign policy that is relatively free from US manipulation and dictation. It takes courage to do this because other foreign leaders have been forcibly overthrown or killed for doing what PRRD has done. I also fully agree with PRRD’s approach in resolving our sea dispute with China, which is the win-win approach.

Some former influential government officials like former Foreign secretary Albert del Rosario and Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio advocated a win-lose strategy; that we won our case in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague that declared the nine-dash line of China illegal; and that we should drive out the Chinese from those artificial islands they have constructed, with the help of the US military.

This would have led to a major war if PRRD had not adapted an independent foreign policy. This is because China is prepared to go to war, even a nuclear one, with the US or anybody who would try to drive them out of those artificial islands in the South China Sea. These islands mean survival or extinction of the Chinese nation itself. China needs those islands to prevent any adversary from blockading the Malacca Strait and other nearby straits in the area.

The US and Australia have been conducting biennial naval exercises dubbed “Talisman Saber” since 2005, rehearsing how they would blockade the Malacca Strait where China’s oil imports from the Middle East and Africa and China’s traded goods pass through. A naval blockade of this critical choke point will force China’s economy to grind to a halt.

Another reason why China occupied the Scarborough Shoal in the disputed waters is because of the nearby Manila Trench. This is the only portion in the whole of South China Sea that is deep enough for nuclear submarines to approach China’s east coast undetected for a “first strike.” Four Ohio Class submarines sneaking in through this Manila Trench and conducting a first nuclear strike can drive the Chinese nation and civilization to extinction within hours, if not minutes.

For these two reasons, China is prepared to go to war if need be because it is a question of survival. And the Philippines will be swept away if we stand in the way, or serve as willing tools of a waning superpower that is struggling to prevent its eventual decline. So, instead of fighting a war that we cannot win (and that the US itself cannot win because of geographical disadvantage), why don’t we engage in a win-win negotiation. In negotiation, there is such a thing as “enlarging the pie.”

We can enlarge the pie by negotiating with China to assist the Philippines in reviving the ancient Galleon Trade route that brought silk, porcelain, silver and other goods from Guangzhou to Manila, where galleon ships brought the goods to Acapulco, Mexico, then on to Sevilla in Spain.

From Mexico and Panama, high speed rail can be built across both South and North America. The port in Cagayan inside CEZA in northern Philippines can be modernized with China’s assistance to serve as a maritime hub and gateway for the whole of Asean and China to North and South America.

The port in Tawi-Tawi can also be modernized to serve as gateway for Asean and China to Oceania (Australia and New Zealand). This will be a big win for China because the Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI, would now cover six continents instead of three. The whole of Asean will also win big because of the increase in trade infrastructure and trade opportunities spanning six continents.

But the Philippines will be the biggest beneficiary of them all because it will be at the epicenter of a planetary-scale economic development that will literally circle the globe. All these can only be possible with a Philippine president like Rodrigo R. Duterte. The alternative is war, and nobody wins.

I support PRRD for another reason — his determined war on drugs. When I was chief of ISAFP, we tried to warn the public on the creeping danger of narco-politics.

Our system is such that economic power begets political power. There is big money in drugs. So, drug lords can easily choose their own candidates and make them win using drug money. But at that time, we did not have the strong hand needed to weed out the fast spreading drug problem. Until it grew to what it is today. Only President Duterte had the gall to run after and eliminate this plague in Philippine society.

So, Mr. President, I salute you! May you succeed for the rest of your stint as the leader of our nation.

*The opinion of this author is his/hers alone. It is not necessarily the views of Beyond Deadlines.

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