Our constitution vests in the president the prerogative to determine foreign policy but where these involve treaties, or declarations of martial law and war, critical checks and balances are provided by the legislature. This follows pretty much the American model, but beyond adherence to parental DNA, our compatibility is also a consequence of the society we developed over time. Our shared history, values, principles, our common ideologies, even our faith link us closer than any constitutional umbilical can.
History can however be rewritten, and it often is. The public interest is not always the impetus. Much less is the truth. We have seen that under Rodrigo Duterte, and we stand to see more whimsical revisionism if we do not remember the past and learn from it.
For politicians, the truth is not inviolate, much less sacred. Treaties and contracts can be abrogated, and trade and commerce can shift poles where the global marketplace provides sellers and buyers from all points of the compass. Political systems, while not as supple, can shift, skew, and slant towards one versus another. While the foregoing provides examples of changeability, whether demanded by the times or as personal presidential penchants, these cannot occur without attendant friction.
When Duterte extrapolated his decidedly violent anti-drug campaign in Davao and nationalized it, rather than treat the problem as a health issue, he implemented it with a blunt instrument — deadly police powers. “Kill” was constantly on his lips. That immediately placed him on the radar of global human rights advocates from western democracies. From both hemispheres, the Americans across the Pacific and the European Union on the opposite were not simply critical of human rights abuses but their economic and military support hinged on good behavior.
We had the goons, but where would we go for the guns and the gold? From the opposite end of these democracies, Duterte sought warm and fuzzy comfort from autocratic regimes where the violation of human rights was directly antithetical to values we historically held dear.
Hence the pivot towards China and Russia.
Cuddling close to Communist China, ruled by Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party’s hegemonic dictator for life, the benefits to Duterte and those close to him are undeniable.
Of Communist China’s leaders since 1949, Xi mirrors Mao Zedong’s pre and post Cultural Revolution but globalized through an expansionist agenda employing cleverly camouflaged albeit weaponized infrastructure debt traps, migrant invasion, captive markets, and overwhelming military might. Like Mao who ensured constant struggle to perpetuate his hold on power, Xi seeks global domination under a one-party Social Fascism paradigm — the worst governance model for Duterte to pivot towards.
Under Duterte’s infrastructure program, whether railway, public works, or telecommunications expansion, Xi provided cheap Chinese labor, equipment and debt funding. In the energy sector, on the pretext of exploiting submarine resources now under the military control of the Chinese, such possibility is facilitated by an ally who controls 90% of the offshore gas fields through leveraged equity. Never mind concealed creditor conditionalities, cut corners and a negatively capitalized vehicle.
Before the pandemic, we saw the meteoric rise in gambling and the unmitigated flow of armies of undocumented Chinese invading and infesting everything from the property sector to organized crime, to human trafficking and prostitution. Under the pandemic, it was business as usual. Duterte’s pivot to Xi remains a constant.
We purchased and continue to purchase from China the least effective albeit the most expensive vaccine in terms of efficacy even as others have shifted to higher quality brands or completely stopped vaccine importations from China.
Employing deceit and subterfuge, we re-channeled billions to a minor purchasing office so that an undercapitalized start-up with fraudulent credentials can earn quadruple-digit returns on equity while enriching blacklisted foreign nationals wanted for international fraud.
For 2022, we awarded a P1.6 billion election logistics contract to a Duterte ally with close links to the Chinese.
The pivot to China as an exercise of independence is a lie. It initiated our imminent vassalage. The bigger lie is that it was for the public good. It was for private gain. It enriched peddlers and personal allies and endangers public health and economic sovereignty in our waters and inland in the transportation, telecommunications, electricity, labor, and infrastructure sectors.
On the pretext of an independent foreign policy, we were sold down the Yangtze.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.