PH not America’s lapdog–US top envoy
Rejecting notions the Philippines is an American lapdog or a pawn, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Daniel Russel on Monday said Washington was open to an independent foreign policy for the country.
Asked about his thoughts on the matter, Russel maintained that Manila was independent from Washington.
“We have a lot of experience in a full-fledged independent Philippine foreign policy. This notion that the Philippines is somehow a pawn of the United States, it may make a good story but it is not supported the facts,” Russel told Filipino journalists in a roundtable discussion.
He added: “The fact is that the United States is stronger when other democracies, our partners, are themselves strong.”
President Duterte is pushing for an independent foreign policy as he toughens his stance on the US.
Saying America had failed the Philippines, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay had criticized the US’ “carrot and stick” approach in diplomacy by dangling assistance in exchange for policies or deals favorable to Washington.
Russel denied this, saying America’s support had “no strings attached” to them.
“If the United States was pulling strings on a puppet, trust me, the Philippines would make a lot different policy calls. We respect and admire the independence, the autonomy and the democracy of the Philippines,” Russel said.
“You get to make your own decisions. We wanna talk to you about them. Sometimes we wanna persuade you, but we never want to dictate you,” he added.
Russel pointed out that America was proud of the partnership it had made with the Philippines from the Bush to Obama administrations.
“It is a strong partnership based on mutual consent, based on mutual respect and mutual benefit. We have everything to gain and nothing to fear,” he said.
President Duterte had said he was not an American lapdog nor was he beholden to anybody.
He repeated the remark before leaving for Japan on Tuesday to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“You know before we can move forward, Mr. America, there are things—so many things—the massacre of the Filipinos before. These are historical hurts that would never go away. It all depends if you get a Philippine President to be your dog. You count me out. I’m not one of them,” said Mr. Duterte.
“I am not also a ‘tuta’ (dog) of any country. Mind you, the only ones who can treat me like a dog are Filipinos. Period. Nobody else,” he added.
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