PH owes ASEAN neighbors 'better treatment'—Thai paper


Posted at Oct 11 2016 08:58 PM

MANILA -- In an editorial, a Thai news agency questioned President Rodrigo Duterte's "setting no policy at all," and said the Philippines owes its neighbors "better treatment."

While the Philippines has the right to set its own foreign policy, Duterte's administration is doing the opposite—"neither a continuation of never-wavering reliability, nor a smooth shift to new policy," said the Bangkok Post in its October 11 editorial.

This is worrying, said the Bangkok Post, as Duterte's "ever-changing policies" on the Philippines' relations with the US and military exercises also damage "long and careful relations" within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the group's neighbors.

"As a founding member and one of the rock-solid allies of all ASEAN members, the Philippines owes its nine fellow members better treatment," said the Bangkok Post.

The Philippines recently assumed the ASEAN chairmanship, and promised to highlight ASEAN as a "model of regionalism and a global player with the interest of the people at its core."

If the Philippines were to pull out of military exercises involving the US, said the Bangkok Post, this would affect even multilateral exercises such as Cobra Gold, an annual exercise of US and Thai forces set for February next year, which also includes other countries such as China and the Philippines.

The Bangkok Post also hit the Philippines' suspension of South China Sea patrols with the US "for the time being," as this means that "other countries will have to perform the patrols which keep international shipping lanes open."

The editorial also questioned China's support for the Philippines' war on drugs, which "gave Duterte further ammunition to attack Washington" and allowed him to threaten to replace Americans with Chinese.

Duterte previously thanked China for its generosity in assisting his administration's war on drugs, and said that the US can do better in assisting the country, despite its help in defending Philippine borders.

China helped build rehabilitation centers for drug addicts, Duterte said, while the US has been giving the country "principles of law and nothing else," by urging it to respect human rights.

Amid Duterte's tirades, the US posted a "throwback" of its relief operations during the aftermath of typhoon "Yolanda" in 2013.