Duterte’s brand of diplomacy worries several senators
MANILA, Philippines — Several senators on Tuesday warned of a fallout on long-standing relations between the Philippines and the United States after President Rodrigo Duterte’s harsh statements against US President Barack Obama triggered a cancellation of their scheduled meeting on the sidelines of a regional meet in Laos.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said the latest incident between the Philippines and the US may have damaging effects on the country’s security, as the US remains the country’s closest defense ally.
“President Duterte’s vulgar language directed against President Obama is wrong on so many levels and will definitely have detrimental effects on our diplomatic relationship and alliance with the US,” Trillanes said when sought for comment yesterday.
“You don’t just slap the face of the most powerful country in the world and expect to get away with it. It was uncalled for and now our country’s security sector would be weakened because of it,” he said.
Sen. Leila de Lima, among the President’s most vocal critics in the Senate, reminded Mr. Duterte of the very meaning of diplomacy.
“Whatever the brand of foreign policy the President has in mind, it must always be conducted with respect and diplomacy. I am afraid his recent statements against President Obama will have consequences on our bilateral relations, whether immediately or in the near future,” said De Lima.
Implying that the President should tame his language, the lawmaker said “one cannot simply verbalize scathing top-of-the-mind opinions, especially to the head of state of the most powerful country in the world.”
“But I think it is clear to the US that President Duterte’s uncalled for tirade against President Obama is a personal sentiment of our President, characteristic of his “colorful” personality, and does not reflect that of the Filipino people as a whole.” she said.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson meanwhile hoped Mr. Duterte will understand that whatever he says becomes official government policy.
“I hope our President will soon realize that diplomacy is always part and parcel of a country’s foreign policy and being the country’s leader, he shapes that policy,” he said.
The White House cancelled the scheduled meeting between Obama and Duterte in the wake of the latter’s curses and harsh statements against the US leader, saying he should not meddle with Philippine affairs.
Obama drew Duterte’s ire as he had intended to bring up the matter of extrajudicial killings in their supposed first meeting. In his speech before leaving Manila Monday afternoon, Duterte said he is “no American puppet,” asserting that he is only answerable to Filipinos. “Son of a b****, I will swear at you,” he said. CDG
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