Duterte order to occupy PH islands in S. China Sea meant to appease public, military


Posted at Apr 11 2017 07:36 PM | Updated as of Nov 07 2017 11:07 AM

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An analyst believes President Rodrigo Duterte's order for soldiers to occupy all islands within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone in the disputed South China Sea was a calculated move to appease the public and the defense establishment.

"I think it’s a calibrated measure to rest anxieties among the defense officials that he’s going to relax the Philippines’ territorial and maritime claims because of improving economic relations with China," foreign affairs analyst Richard Heydarian said Tuesday.

Citing a recent survey which saw a decline in Duterte's trust and approval ratings, Heydarian argued that the President's statements reflected an awareness that the public, especially the security establishment, had taken note of his tone towards China.

"This kind of walk-back by the President, I think is a very clear reflection that he understands [that] the defense establishment and the broader public is not very happy with what he is saying towards China and about some of his statements that some critics would say are quite defeatist," said Heydarian.