President Duterte has expressed shock and horror at the USA’s Millennium Challenge Corp’s decision to withhold aid funding, due to concerns over his bloody war on drugs. (See my recent article on this here).
He has further threatened to terminate the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement) and so end the longstanding presence of American forces in the country.
Only yesterday, new US Ambassador Sung Kim was forced to sit stoney-faced as the president ranted against his country. “Go home, I do not need your aid,” the president said. “Shut up. I do not need your assistance.”
When it comes to his attitude to the USA, he is behaving like a petulant kid who got caught smoking out the back of the bike sheds and doesn’t want to take his spanking.
While his supporters raise their pitchforks and say, “to hell with the USA!” and his detractors sit back and say, “you asked for it, mate, time to deal with the fallout”… but what’s missing from the conversation is this: The country has just lost out on aid funding worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
In a place where up to 45% of the population lives on less than $2 a day, the poorest of the poor are inevitably going to be hit hardest because of the president’s threats and bluster.
Also this week we’ve had the admission from The Punisher’s bagboy, Yasay, that there was nothing The Philippines could do about China’s activities in the South China Sea. “There is nothing that we can do about that now, whether or not it is being done for purposes of further militarising these facilities that they put up,” he told journalists in Singapore. “We cannot, we cannot stop China at this point.”
Up until the passing of the baton to the current administration, the Philippines was getting set to do just that. The judgement in the Hague, the support of Washington. All these things were happening. The Philippines arguably had more international support over the disputed territories than it had had at any point in history.
The country had an opportunity to leverage foreign interests in the region off the back of this. Instead, in rode the punisher and deliberately and systematically destroyed every relationship the country had previously enjoyed with western nations.
He started doing this before he even came to power. Putting one of our closest and richest neighbours off side with tasteless jokes about raping missionaries.
He replaced foreign aid with foreign debt, gave away some of the most resource-rich territory the country has (without even putting up a fight) and continues to destroy the reputation of the country and himself both regionally and globally.
He has done it all with popular support and the backing of the majority of his compatriots. In short, he is making things worse, not better. No one seems to be able to see that though. Any member of the press who says anything negative about him gets instantly attacked by legions of on-line trolls, with their tactics of misdirection, misinformation and accusations of bias.
The 71-year-old has also announced that he doubts he’ll last his term and that he has been a regular user of fentanyl — an opiate based painkiller many, many times stronger than Heroin.
At this point it’s unclear whether he is still using the drug. As bodies continue to pile up in the streets, it would be the ultimate irony if the nation’s drug users were being gunned down on orders issued by a president when high.