Duterte: Gov’t to pursue ‘independent foreign policy’
DAVAO CITY – President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said his administration will pursue an “independent foreign policy” and will reject any attempts at meddling by foreign governments.
This meant that the government will adopt and implement policies that would safeguard its national interests and to achieve goals within its international relations environment.
The 1987 Constitution states that “The State shall pursue an independent foreign policy. In its relations with other states, the paramount consideration shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest and the right to self-determination.”
“We will observe and I must insist – I repeat, I must insist – on the time honored principles of sovereign equality, non-interference and commitment to the peaceful settlement of disputes to best serve our people and protect the interests of our country,” Duterte said in his arrival speech at the Davao International Airport here.
The President – accompanied by Cabinet secretaries and other officials – arrived in Davao from Jakarta aboard a chartered Philippine Airlines plane around 12:50 a.m., where he was afforded foyer honors by the Tactical Operation Group 11.
Former senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani wrote in an article in 2015 that the pursuit of an independent foreign policy was “not a ‘go-it-alone’ foreign policy. Neither does it mean the absence of any alliances.”
“Rather, it means a long-term, deliberate government policy sustained and adjusted by several administrations aimed at making the government and its people responsible for containing and responding to internal and external threats to ensure the nation’s security,” Shahani wrote in the article that came out in the Inquirer on August 2, 2015.
Duterte said advancing the interest of the country was his focused objective when he attended the 28th and 29th Asean Summit and Related Summits in Laos.
“I engaged the leaders of Asean and its dialogue partners on important regional and international issues that impact on peace, security, stability and prosperity of our region,” he said.
Duterte said he also brought up the issue of the West Philippine Sea but “stressed our commitment to the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law, including Unclos.”
“And I called on leaders to support the individual and collective effort to bring security and stability to (the West Philippine Sea) through a rules-based approach for resolving maritime disputes,” he said.
He said he also pointed out that there is now a “serious concern in the region over terrorism and violent extremism” that he urged Asean and other leaders to “redouble our cooperative efforts in order to address this menace.”
He said he had told them that his administration’s campaign against illegal drugs would be relentless and comprehensive “encompassing suppression, prosecution and rehabilitation,” which will all be “within the bounds of our laws.”
In a press conference that followed, Duterte said that nobody probably had expected how serious the drug problem has become until he brought it up. In the Philippines alone, Duterte said there were now more about 3.7 million addicts.
“So it is never wrong to threaten criminals (to end the problem),” he said.
“As your President and a lawyer, I have every right to threaten criminals and how it develops to the ending is another problem,” he added.
As to the issue of human rights violations in the continuing drug war, he said he does not intend to pick a fight with any nation.
“That is farthest from my mind. I only want to be at peace with everybody, doing business with everybody and no quarrels,” he said.
Duterte said China has pledged to help in the rehabilitation efforts of the government, which is being hampered by the lack of funds.
He said he assumed the Presidency “midterm” that there was simply no budget available for it and he welcomed China’s offer.
Duterte also said he had a brief chat with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who brought up the issue of human rights in the Philippines.
“I responded very well,” he said, repeating that the Philippines will pursue an independent foreign policy. CDG
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