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President Rodrigo Duterte Can Still Do the Right Thing

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during the ASEAN summit held in Manila last April. REUTERS/Erik De Castro
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during the ASEAN summit held in Manila last April. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

n a recent article in Asia Times, William Pesek a Tokyo-based journalist and former columnist for Barron’s and Bloomberg noted that President Rodrigo Duterte might be “shooting the 100 million-person (Philippine) nation in the proverbial foot?” with his bloody war on drugs, instead of continuing to improve the economy he inherited from former President Benigno Aquino—“an economy on the ascendancy – from weak link to investment-grade growth star in just six years.”

Duterte still has 5 years left on his 6-year term and can still get the country’s economy back on track despite Standard & Poor’s recent warning of a possible downgrade. But he has to get his priorities straight, move fast, and act decisively.

Also, Duterte needs to do a one-eighty on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) issue. The Philippines achieved a highly significant victory with the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal’s unanimous decision in its favor. Again, instead of capitalizing on that “win” Duterte muddied the waters by opening bilateral negotiations with China and alienating the United States. It was only when he realized that Chinese President Xi Jinping was prepared to give up nothing in exchange for the Philippines giving up everything, that Duterte began to distance himself from China.

Again, Duterte can still has time to turn this issue around. But, as we noted in previous articles, he must take the lead and convince other countries to get on the Philippines' side. It was the country after all that won the landmark case and it should be the country that should lead the charge. Right now it is primarily the U.S., Japan, and occasionally Australia that are defying China with their freedom of navigation sail-bys and over-flights.

If Duterte demands that China, as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), follow the rule of law and abide by the UN tribunal’s ruling, other world leaders will begin to back him. As a coalition of countries begins to form, more will follow and China will realize that it cannot bully its way into acquiring what the UN says belongs to the Philippines. Duterte will have to get his priorities straight, move fast, and act decisively on this matter as well.

Will he be able to manage that or will he simply continue to play his tough-guy role, while the Chinese see him as a weakling. Only time will tell. Published 6/25/2017

Why Xi Jinping Threatened War If the Philippines Drills for Oil

Though nothing Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has said or will say carries any shock value anymore, his surprising announcement on May 19 caused seismic tremors. At a Manila press conference on that day, Pres. Duterte disclosed that while attending the “One Belt, One Road” summit in Beijing on May 15, Chinese Premier China Xi Jinping warned him that there would be war if the Philippines tried to enforce a United Nations arbitration ruling and drill for oil in the West Philippine Sea ... Published 6/15/2017

Philippine Congressman warns of Duterte dictatorship, pleads for Congress to convene

Ifugao Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat has expressed serious concern that President Rodrigo Duterte is dangerously close to becoming a dictator and it may just happen without Congress doing its constitutional role to be a check against abuses by any other equal branch of government ... Published 6/1/2017

Martial Law in the Philippine South

While on a state visit to Russia, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao in response to a string of attacks by a band of terrorists known as the Maute group. During a press conference on his arrival back in Manila, Duterte mentioned the killing and decapitation of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief of Malabang, as well as arson and fighting in the streets of Marawi ... Published 5/25/2017

ATM Statement on Social Justice and Environmental Protection

Secretary Dominguez stated recently that the mining industry requires good governance and transparency to ensure that it contributes to development. We agree. That is why closing and suspending those mines that violated the Mining Act (RA 7942) and other environmental laws were necessary. Our alliance sincerely believes that the results of the Mining Audit were credible ... Published 5/20/2017

UN Human Rights Council and 45 Countries Tell Duterte to Stop the Killings

The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte received a stunning rebuke from the United Nations’ Human Rights Council in its just released draft report on the Philippines. Duterte’s war on drugs and the alleged extra-judicial killing of thousands of Filipinos appears to be widely condemned by the international community ... Published 5/12/2017

Why San Francisco Is a Sanctuary City

I am a proud San Franciscan with the honor of being the first Filipino elected to public office in my city serving four terms in the San Francisco Community College Board from 1992 through 2008. City College of San Francisco has a Filipino student population of 3,800 in our main Ocean campus of 38,000 students. In my last term, we had a total population of 110,000 students in our 10 San Francisco campuses, the largest community college in California ... Published 5/6/2017

Congressman Teddy Brawner Baguilat Calls for Investigation of Secret Police Jail Cells

Ifugao Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat is set to file a resolution urging the Lower House to immediately conduct an investigation into the alleged secret police cell in a Manila station where drug suspects are allegedly held until they cough up money ... Published 4/29/2017

Something for Filipinos to Ponder This Earth Day

As people celebrated earth Day all across the planet, Filipinos need to take pause and start championing our planet’s welfare in earnest. The Philippines once had an abundance of natural resources: lush forests, crystal-clear rivers and streams, and all manner of flora and fauna ... Published 4/22/2017

Senator Leila Delima’s Travail, Presages Dark Days Ahead for the Philippines

Since Did she really break the law? Or are the trials and tribulations she is undergoing, a prelude of how President Rodrigo Duterte intends to deal with those who oppose him: first, malign them in the public’s eye, then throw them in jail on trumped-up charges ... Published 4/18/2017

Choosing Between the United States and China

Since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office, he seems to have made it his personal mission to steer the country away from the United States and towards China. And while generations of Filipinos have seen their country as one of America’s staunchest allies in the region, many have followed the president and now look to China as the Philippines’ new “best friend” ... Published 4/9/2017

Will the Communist-led Insurrection in the Philippines Finally Come to an End?

The On April 5, 2017, the government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) signed an interim agreement that could eventually lead to a cessation of hostilities between the Communist rebel group and the Philippine Army ... Published 4/5/2017

Is Senator Alan Peter Cayetano a Philippine Citizen?

The names of singer Tina Turner, actor Jet Li and Philippine Senator Alan Peter Cayetano are all included in a Wikipedia list of distinguished former United States citizens who relinquished their nationality and whose relinquishment is memorialized in the official “Federal Register” of distinguished former US citizens ... Published 3/29/2017

Immigrants Are Human Beings Who Just Want a Better Life

Immigration laws are relatively new. These man-made laws were instituted long after countries and national boundaries were already in existence. When there were no immigration laws people moved freely from one place to another. Famines, wars, natural disasters, plagues, poverty, personal problems, economic reasons, political oppression, etc. are the usual reasons for migration ... Published 3/11/2017

TNTs Fear Trump’s Enforcement Surge

The affectionate Filipino term for a deportable alien in the U.S. is “TNT”, short for “Tago ng Tago” or always hiding. It also stands for “Takot na Takot” or very afraid. These two translations of the acronyms accurately describe their ever fearful state since President Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents began rounding up TNTs from countries all over the world in the last two weeks ... Published 2/27/2017

The Slut-shaming Misogyny of the Duterte Administration

The idea of a Women’s March in Washington, DC first arose on November 9 when a Hawaiian grandmother posted on her Facebook page that she wanted to protest the election of Donald Trump on the day after his inaugural. Her simple suggestion quickly spread like a prairie fire on social media and concrete plans for a January 21 Women’s March on Washington were laid out with the goal of sending a message to Trump and to the world that “women’s rights are human rights” ... Published 2/9/2017

Read more articles from our archives

BLACK FRIDAY PROTEST | Rally outside Malacañang greets Martial Law one month on
Garbed mostly in black, militants marched and brought their rally to the gates of Malacañan Palace, brandishing black placards articulating their sentiments against the imposition of Martial Law in Mindanao. They were stopped by barricades and barbed wires, and it was all they could do to respond by tying black ribbons of protest.

Federal conversion necessary for Philippine survival, MinDa chair says
DAVAO CITY -- Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chair, Sec. Abul Khayr Alonto, said that in light of the infiltration of ISIS members and sympathizers in the country, the Philippines is in dire need to convert its Unitarian government into a Federal one.

Maute enlists 40 foreign terrorists
FORTY foreigners have joined the Maute group to battle the government, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Año said Thursday. In an interview, Año

DepEd statement on attack of armed rebels in North Cotabato schools
PASIG CITY – Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones continues to reiterate that schools and learning spaces are zones of peace, and maintains that the security and safety of learners, teaching and non-teaching personnel are the foremost priority in the event of conflict, disaster, and emergency.

Duterte’s first year ‘felt like three years’ in office
MALACAÑANG said President Rodrigo Duterte’s first year in office “felt like three years” because of the amount of work his administration has accomplished, and took aim at critics who act “as if they were not Filipinos.” After winning the presidential race with a commanding lead over his closest rivals, Duterte will mark his first year in office on Friday, June 30, still trying to fulfill his campaign promise of change.

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