Duterte and the "People's Republic of the Philippines"

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 10/23/2016 03:55:00 PM
Duterte claims the Philippines is now in the PRC's ideological flow. Take it with a whole heaping of salt.
Friends abroad have asked me how to make sense of the bombastic and oafish Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. My answer is always the same: Watch what the Philippine government does and not what he says since the latter is a completely unreliable guide to national policy. A case in point is his most ridiculous statements yet during a state visit to China. Apparently overwhelmed by the welcome granted to him that tinpot dictators the world over have also been given, Duterte began rambling incoherently as is his habit:
In a state visit aimed at cozying up to Beijing as he pushes away from Washington, the Philippine President announced his military and economic "separation" from the United States.
"America has lost now. I've realigned myself in your ideological flow," he told business leaders in Beijing on Thursday. "And maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world: China, Philippines and Russia. It's the only way."
If only that were so. The aftermath of Duterte's quite frankly idiotic statements is that two things nearly always happen. First, he backtracks on them--Trump-style it must be noted--as to lose most of the original force:
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he’s not cutting the nation’s cord with the U.S. and that maintaining ties would be in his country’s best interest, stepping back from his “goodbye” America comments made during a four-day state visit to China.

“It’s not severance of ties,” Duterte said in a televised briefing in Davao city around midnight Friday, after returning from Beijing. “It’s in the best interests of my country that I don’t do that,” he said. On Thursday, he told Filipino and Chinese businessmen and officials in a China forum that “in this venue, I announce my separation from the U.S.”

Back in the Philippines, Duterte said the comments refer to a foreign policy that doesn’t “dovetail” with America. “What I’m really saying was separation of foreign policy, which in the past and until I became president, we always followed” the cue from the U.S., he said.
Second, his cabinet members and other surrogates downplay the gravity of what he's said:
Duterte’s cabinet members, who have often sought to tone down his statements, followed a similar routine this time. Hours after the president’s “separation” remarks, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the Philippines will maintain relations with the West. Duterte is “rebalancing” foreign policy and broadening the country’s alliance and not separating from the U.S., they said in a joint statement.
Bottom line: Duterte's "word" is as good as nothing. Discount it fully. Pay attention to what the Philippine government does rather than what Duterte says is your best guide to what's happening in the "People's Republic of the Philippines."