Palace respects Ramos' comment that PH is 'losing badly'

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 10 2016 03:18 PM | Updated as of Oct 10 2016 04:15 PM

MANILA - The Palace on Monday said it understands the comments of former President Ramos about Team Philippines "losing badly" in President Duterte's first 100 days.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the Palace respects the opinion of the former president and said his concerns on foreign policy "are worth looking into."

“He is a senior statesman and he has his opinion. He has his concerns especially regarding foreign relations and these are also worth looking into,” Abella said.

"We can appreciate where President FVR (Fidel V. Ramos) is coming from. On the other hand we also continue to move on according to the lights of the President."

Abella believes, Ramos’ remarks do not necessarily refer to Duterte’s actions but to the “public relations, foreign relations that tend to be affected by the president's language.”

"Former President Ramos is a senior statesman and he is acting in a sense, like a father. He is not referring to the actual actions. He is referring to the public relations, foreign relations that tend to be affected by the president's language,” Abella said.

“Yes, we listen to him, we respect him but we would also like to balance his perspective by the statement. As you very well heard, his former national secuity adviser when asked how to assess the first hundred days of the President, he referred to the fact that based on the three point mission which is to reduce poverty, law and order, and peace within our borders, he said that the President did exceptionally well. So there are really mixed reactions."

Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol, meanwhile, said Ramos’ assessment is not accurate.

Piñol said the administration’s achievements have been highly glossed over, claiming that the media chose to focus on the government’s war on drugs and not on the efforts made by agencies such as his.

He cited the assistance farmers and fishermen have received since Duterte took over the government.

RARE CRITICISM

In a rare criticism of Duterte, 88-year-old Ramos said the government was "losing badly" by prioritizing a controversial war on drugs at the expense of issues like poverty, foreign investment and jobs.

Duterte picked Ramos, in office from 1992-1998, as his special envoy to break the ice with China and manage the fallout from an international arbitration ruling Manila won in July that dented Beijing's claims to jurisdiction over most of the South China Sea.

Duterte has spoken often of his respect for Ramos, and has repeatedly cited the former defense chief as being instrumental in persuading him to run in the May presidential election.

It was not clear why Ramos made his criticism at this time and he was not available for comment.

Ramos is the only president to score higher than Duterte in a Social Weather Stations (SWS) opinion poll traditionally conducted after the first 90 days of each presidency.

Duterte was rated "very good", with a net satisfaction rating of 64 percent in a Social Weather Stations Poll on Thursday, behind Ramos at 66 percent. Only 11 percent of 1,200 people polled were not satisfied with Duterte.

In a Sunday editorial in the Manila Bulletin newspaper, much of it written in capital letters, Ramos listed priority focus areas that could have been "do-able" if Duterte had hit the ground running "instead of being stuck in endless controversies about extrajudicial killings of drug suspects and in his ability at using cuss-words and insults instead of civilised language".

The drugs crackdown, Duterte's signature policy popular among Filipinos who elected him in May by a huge margin, has killed more than 3,600 people since June 30, with 1,377 shot by police in operations. Activists believe the rest were mostly vigilante killings.

In a separate poll on Friday, 84 percent of Filipinos supported the crackdown although most felt it important to arrest suspects alive. 

Ramos said the government's mixed statements on Philippine-U.S. relations were "discombobulating" including Duterte's verbal attack on U.S. President Barack Obama early in September at the same time his defense minister and finance ministers were on visits to the United States.

Duterte a week ago said Obama should "go to hell" and that in his time, he might "break up" with traditional ally Washington.

On Friday, he reiterated ongoing U.S.-Philippines military exercises would be "the last" and challenged Washington to use the Central Intelligence Agency to oust him.

"So what gives??" Ramos asked in the editorial.

"Are we throwing away decades of military partnership, tactical proficiency, compatible weaponry, predictable logistics and soldier-to-soldier camaraderie, just like that?? On DU30's say-so???," he said, referring to a popular acronym for Duterte.

Ramos hoped the next 100 days would be "much, much better" and Duterte would consider "the entire gamut of Philippine problems, starting with poverty". – with Reuters