‘Hyperbole,’ solon says of Duterte’s vow to cut ties with US
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman dismissed as “hyperbole” the announcement of President Rodrigo Duterte that he had decided to cut economic and military ties with the United States, a former colonial master of the Philippines before becoming one of its closest allies, having fought side by side against the Japanese during World War II.
“This is again President Duterte’s usual hyperbole,” Lagman said in a statement he issued on Thursday. “He does not mean it. The country cannot afford to completely sever ties with traditional economic and security allies like the US. He is just catering to the goodwill of his Chinese hosts. Diplomacy is ‘polygamy.’ A country is ‘married’ to multiple allies.”
Duterte, who is on a state visit to China, made the statement earlier in the day at an investment conference in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
Just a day before, Duterte and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jin Ping announced to their countries would enter into bilateral negotiations to resolve its dispute over areas in the South China Sea.
“Both sides agreed that the South China Sea issue is not the sum total of the bilateral relationship,” Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said in a news briefing, according to an Associated Press report.
According to the Presidential Communication Office, Xi also committed to the Philippines $9 billion in low-interest loans, with about a third of the loan coming from private banks.
Last July, the Philippines won the arbitration case it filed against China during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, Duterte’s predecessor. The United Nations Arbitral Tribunal decided that the Philippines has exclusive sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea (in the South China Sea) and that China’s “nine-dash line” is invalid.
Duterte’s stance on US-Philippine relations, while consistent with his statement that his administration would pursue an independent foreign policy, runs counter to policies pursued by his predecessors in Malacañan.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez also announced that the Philippines would sign with China deals worth $13.5 billion.
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