Filipinos must let go of ‘little brown brother’ image—Yasay
Foreign Affairs secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr maintained on Saturday that the Philippines needs to shed off its “little brown brother” image in order to pursue an independent foreign policy.
For her part Senator Leila De Lima described as “insane” and “surreal” President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncements on separating with the US, pointing out, “Cutting off military and economic ties is only a degree less worse than cutting diplomatic ties.”
In a statement posted on Saturday in his Facebook account entitled, “Letting go as Interdependent Brothers,” Yasay clarified that separating from the US economically and militarily “does not mean severance of relationship or terminating the special bond between our two nations, which remains firm notwithstanding the formidable but surmountable challenges that we face in making liberating change happen.”
While he conceded that breaking away from the US “would not be in our best national interest,” he claimed it was “demanded in pursuing our independent foreign policy.”
Yasay explained, “It implies breaking away from the debilitating mindset of dependency and subservience that have perpetuated our ‘little brown brother’ image to America, which has stunted our growth and advancement” and did not mean destroying alliances and making enemies.
“It simply means letting go of the disguised chains that continue to hold us captive to foreign interests in order to enable our people and duly elected leaders to address our urgent problems and needs in the light of our priorities, experiences and values without undue outside interference,” he pointed out.
“This separation means enabling the Philippines as a sovereign equal with all nations in securing world peace not war, forging stronger friendships and not enmity and making our planet a better and safer place for everyone,” he said.
Yasay summed up President Duterte’s foreign policy direction as integration and dynamic economic and trade relations with other Southeast Asian countries and other regional neighbors, particularly China, Japan, and South Korea.
The three Asian countries, according to the foreign affairs secretary, have offered assistance, support and cooperation “without any strings attached.”
He said that President Duterte has also made it clear to Chinese President Xi Jinping and other officials that if they are unwilling to give assistance fairly, justly and with mutual respect, “The Filipinos will chart their destiny alone, despite great odds, in their determination not to commit the same mistakes that have worked against the general welfare.”
In a statement Senator De Lima said, “Only a madman can contemplate cutting off economic ties with the gateway to the world economic order, without thinking of the severe consequences to our economy and the opportunities for our people.”
She raised suspicion that an independent foreign policy meant a shift from US puppet to Chinese stooge, pointing out, “He (Duterte) does not need to cut off diplomatic ties with the US to drive this country to ruin. All he has to do is go with China’s ‘ideological flow’, turn socialist, and ruin our politically democratic and economically capitalist-based systems.”
Referring to Mr. Duterte’s declarations on military and economic separation from the US, the Senator said, “These are nothing but the ruminations of a madman in the mold of Rasputin, of a man with nothing to lose personally but as President is taking an entire country with him to his grave. God forbid his policy declarations are actually adopted by the DFA and all departments under him. That will be the end of us.”
Even Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who joined the President’s delegation to China, wants more details on the economic and security parameters in the “monumental foreign policy shift” announced by Mr. Duterte at the Philippines-China Trade and Investment Forum in Beijing.
“Does this declaration embody a mere pivot to Asia, or is it a hardline stance against the West? The administration must answer this question by outlining in detail the tangible policy changes which will implement this bold declaration,” Gatchalian pointed out in a statement.
His colleagues in the Liberal Party, Senators De Lima, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Franklin Drilon, and Francis Pangilinan, called on the Senate committees on foreign relations and economic affairs to conduct a hearing on the government’s foreign policy direction “with the end view of protecting our national interest.”
They said that the hearing should reveal the terms of the agreements and memoranda of understanding signed during Mr. Duterte’s state visit to China, “The Filipino people deserve to know what the official position of the administration is and how these affect the lives of our countrymen residing in all corners of the globe.”
They further urged the administration to consider “international realities” where the US along with Japan and China are the country’s top three trading partners and the Philippines has over 10 million overseas workers, 4 million of whom are in the US.
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