Independent foreign policy? Recto says Duterte is ‘pro-China’
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is “pro-China,” according to Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, who believes that the Chief Executive is not really pursuing an independent foreign policy.
“I don’t think we do have an independent foreign policy. I think the President is pro-China so that is not an independent foreign policy as far as I am concerned. And then you see it in the body language and the words that he utters in favor of China,” Recto said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel Tuesday.
The senator, however, was quick to clarify that he has nothing against China and that he favors having good relations with the country’s neighbors.
“But this problem will be inherited by the next administration as well and no one is talking about going to war with China. There are many things that we can do to assert our sovereignty. You don’t need to go to war with China for that,” the senator went on.
“We do have a lot of allies in the region. We have South Korea, Japan, the Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue): India, you have Australia, you have New Zealand, you have the US, the British, so on and so forth,” he added.
This was his reaction to Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday, where the President said the Philippines will be “massacred” if it goes to war against China.
The Chief Executive said this in his Sona criticisms against his previous remarks on the country’s maritime dispute with China, most notably when he said Manila’s 2016 arbitral victory was a “piece of paper” and likened it to trash that can be thrown away.
“I don’t think it is proper for the President to say that is a useless piece of paper,” Recto went on.
Asked how Duterte’s foreign policy will affect the next administration, the senator said: “It would be a continuing problem for the next president.”
“So it is really a balancing act. But first and foremost, protect our fishermen and deal with their allies…Continue dialogue with China. Everyone is concerned. Everyone in the world, in the region is concerned about China’s assertiveness in the West Philippine Sea,” he added.
Recto said China’s assertiveness is seen across the world and is prompting alliances to be created among countries.
“You know China has been a little assertive, I think the entire globe sees that. The entire world sees that and that is you will notice that alliances are being formed,” he said.
“As we speak, there are talks right now between the US and China. They have a trade war, they have a Cold War of some sort, there is a technology war going on, then you have the issue of the West Philippine Sea. China is being a little assertive. They have a trade war with Australia, too, right now,” he added.
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