Crossing the Rubicon? Just dramatics, says Yasay
PRESIDENT Duterte has no plans of cutting ties with the United States, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said on Tuesday, explaining that his “crossing the Rubicon” remark was just his “dramatics” aimed at bolstering relations with US rivals China and Russia.
“He was saying that to dramatize what he feels are the areas that would need further strengthening insofar as our relationship with the US is concerned,” Yasay said in a briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday.
He said the President’s remark was his way of expressing his desire for the country to “undertake an independent foreign policy,” specifically to bolster its ties with other countries, particularly China, which had been neglected in the past.
On Monday, the President had said: “I am about to cross the Rubicon between me and the US.” Crossing the Rubicon has become an idiom to mean passing the point of no return, from the crossing of the Rubicon River by Julius Caesar in 49 B.C. in defiance of Roman law.
Mr. Duterte later clarified that this did not mean disengaging from the US but only to open alliances in his coming meetings with China President Xi Jinping and Russia Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Yasay said that as he understood it, the President was reviewing offers made by China and Russia to expand trade and investments.
“We should not be arrogant to reject it, you know. If other countries will give us help but with so many conditions… we have to entertain all possibilities and see what will be in the best interest of the country,” he said.
He said the details of these alliances were still being firmed up. “As I understand it, it’s very possible that China and Russia will offer us certain assistance to beef up our enforcement capabilities, but we will have no response to that until we see their offer and compare it with the offers of other countries,” Yasay said.
Yasay had just arrived from the United States were he spoke before the UN General Assembly and defended the administration’s war on illegal drugs.
He also met with US senators on Capitol Hill and National Security Adviser officials at the White House where he addressed the rabid comments made by President Duterte against his critics and assured them the Philippines was not veering from its relationship with the United States.
Yasay said the Americans’ main concern was how the Philippines planned to move forward after winning its case against China in the UN arbitral tribunal. He said he told them Mr. Duterte’s policy was to settle the issue bilaterally and not involve other countries that were not a party to its territorial dispute.
“Our dispute with China insofar as our 200-mile exclusive economic zone is concerned is really just simply a dispute between China and the Philippines… and it should involve only China and the Philippines,” he said.
He also defended Mr. Duterte’s tirades against Western leaders as a natural reaction after being provoked with unfounded allegations on the killings occurring in the country in its war on illegal drugs.
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