bodies of Moro insurgents and civilians killed by US troops during the
Battle of Bud Dajo in the Philippines, March 7, 1906.
day after Donald Trump won the US presidency in a stunning upset, Pres.
Rodrigo Duterte declared the end of his personal war with the United
States. “I don’t want to fight now that Trump’s there. I would like to
congratulate President Trump. Mabuhay, Mr. Trump!"
conveyed his congratulations to Trump in a telephone call on December 2,
when they engaged in what a Duterte aide described as a "very engaging,
animated" seven-minute phone conversation where both of them extended
travel invitations to the other. "He has invited me to visit New York
and Washington DC. He said if I am around he wants to be notified of my
presence," Duterte said.
In a press conference
held the morning after his phone call, Duterte said that Trump was
"quite sensitive to our war on drugs, and he wishes me well in my
campaign and said that we are doing, as he so put it, the right way,"
Duterte said. Trump's transition team only confirmed that Duterte
"offered his congratulatory wishes to President-elect Trump" but did not
mention any comment by Trump on Duterte's war on drugs.
Duterte said that he
was not surprised that the two men had exhibited "rapport" towards each
other. He previously told the press that he thought the two of them
would get along well. "We don't have any quarrels. I can always be a
friend to anybody especially to a president, a chief executive of
another country. He has not meddled in the human rights,” he said.
The last comment was a
pointed jab at Pres. Barack Obama whom Duterte famously attacked as a
“son of a whore” for criticizing his human rights record which has
claimed the lives of an average of 44 Filipinos a day. Obama has said
that although he very much wants to partner with the Philippines, he
wants a partnership that is "consistent with international norms and
rule of law."
"We're not going to
back off on our position that if we're working with a country, whether
it's on anti-terrorism, whether it's on going after drug traffickers, as
despicable as these networks may be, as much as damage as they do, it is
important from our perspective to make sure that we do it the right
way," he added.
Obama had warned that
employing unlawful means in solving a problem would only spawn even more
problems.''Because the consequences when you do it the wrong way,
innocent people get hurt. And you have a whole bunch of unintended
consequences that don't solve the problem," he said.
OF DUTERTE'S ANTI-AMERICANISM
Duterte expressed his
animosity towards Obama at a press conference held just before he left
for the ASEAN conference in Laos last September. “Who is he?” he asked.
“When as a matter of fact at the turn of the century, before the
Americans left the Philippines, in the pacification campaign of the
Moros in this island, there were around 6 million Moro population, how
many died? If you can answer this question and give an apology, I will
answer him… Who is he to confront me, as a matter of fact, America has
one too many to answer for their misdeeds in this country.”
It was at that Manila
press conference when Duterte first displayed photos of the atrocities
committed by American soldiers in the Battle of Bud Dajo in 1906.
Duterte provided the
answer to his question a week earlier in a speech in Davao Oriental on
August 26 when he said: “There was this historical injustice committed
against the Moro people. The Americans may want to know that during
their campaign in Mindanao, they slaughtered 600,000 Moro people.”
In his address to the
leaders of the 18-nation ASEAN group, Duterte dispensed with his
prepared speech and continued his fiery tirade against the US military
killings in Mindanao showing the delegates the same gruesome photos he
presented in Manila just a few days before.
President Rodrigo Duterte displays a photo of the Bud Dajo massacre at a
Manila press conference.
“This is my ancestor
they killed,” he revealed. “Why now we are talking about human rights?'
Duterte had previously
disclosed that he has Moro blood through his grandmother. His oldest
son, Paulo, the vice mayor of Davao City, converted to Islam when he
married a Muslim Tausug woman.
During the Philippine
presidential campaign, Duterte described himself as the “Moro people’s
president”. At his rallies in the Moro provinces of Mindanao, Duterte
pledged to “correct the historical injustice committed against the Moro
people” as his Moro supporters would chant “Allahu Akbar” (“God is
Given his professed
closeness to Filipino Moros, it would have been expected that Duterte
would find more kinship with Barack Hussein Obama whose own father was a
Muslim from Kenya and who, as president, has called for Americans to be
respectful of Muslims who number 1.6 billion of the world’s population
and not to lump them all as "terrorists" which, he said, would only play
into the hands of ISIS.
In contrast, Trump
gained political prominence by questioning Obama’s American citizenship
after falsely claiming that Obama was a Muslim who was born in Kenya.
After propagating this lie for five years, Trump finally retracted his
claim in September but without issuing an apology to Obama.
A year ago, on
December 8, 2015, Trump called for a ban on Muslims traveling to the
United States. In an anti-immigration speech in Portland, Maine on
August 5, 2016, Trump included the Philippines as among the “terrorist
nations” whose citizens should not be allowed entry into the United
States because they would not be vetted by the government beforehand.
“We are letting people
come in from terrorist nations that shouldn’t be allowed because you
can’t vet them. You have no idea who they are. This could be the great
Trojan horse of all time,” Trump said at the rally.
A further ironic twist
in Duterte’s "bromance" with Trump is that the massacre of Filipino
Moros which Duterte denounced in Laos was the subject of a speech by
Donald Trump in North Charleston, South Carolina on February 19, 2016
but from the other side of the incident. In his speech,Trump narrated
the story of how U.S. Army Gen. John “Blackjack” Pershing executed
Muslim rebels in the Philippines as an example of how the U.S. should
deal with Muslim terrorists today.
“I read a story, it’s
a terrible story, but I’ll tell you,” Trump began. “Early in the
century, last century, General Pershing — did you ever hear — rough guy,
rough guy. And they had a terrorism problem. And there’s a whole thing
with swine and animals and pigs — and you know the story. They don’t
like that. They were having a tremendous problem with terrorism.
Pershing caught 50 terrorists. He took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in
pig’s blood. And he had his men load his rifles and he lined up the 50
people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said,
‘You go back to your people and you tell them what happened.’ And for 25
years, there wasn’t a problem.”
Trump was wrong. It
was not Gen. Pershing who ordered the attack that led to the slaughter
of Muslims at Bud Dajo but Gen. Leonard Wood who himself would later
seek the presidential nomination in the 1920 Republican primaries.
In 1906, Gen. Wood was
the governor of Moro province when he imposed a cedula tax on the Moros
which created great resentment against American rule. The Moros who
refused to pay the cedula tax fled to the volcanic crater of Bud Dajo
where water was plentiful and the people could farm rice and potatoes.
On March 2, 1906,
Gen. Wood dispatched an assault force of 600 American soldiers to climb
to the top of the crater where, on March 5, 1906, they fired their
weapons into the crater where the Tausug Moros were holed up. Out of the
estimated 800 to 1,000 Moros at Bud Dajo, only six survived. Eyewitness
reports that corpses were piled five deep, and many of the bodies were
shot multiple times. The photos of that slaughter still haunts Duterte.
Trump and Duterte may
have different views about what American soldiers did to the Moros in
Mindanao in 1906 but they are apparently willing to ignore those
differences because they share one “huge” similarity: they are both
As columnist Jonty
Cruz observed: “For better or worse, both men act and live like they can
do whatever the hell they want. They don’t worry about the consequences
that come their way. They think little of those who are against them and
use their power (whatever shape or form that may be) to pressure others
and get their way. It doesn’t matter if people hate them for it or not.
They don’t give a damn, quite frankly, because for Trump and Duterte,
it’s their way or the highway.” Published 12/05/2016
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