By Rey O. Arcilla
US State Department spokesperson Mark Toner confirmed last week that criticisms and actions taken by Washington against the Duterte administration on its war against illegal drugs were merely based on unconfirmed allegations!
Below is a reprint of excerpts from Toner’s press briefing on January 12:
“QUESTION: Okay. And then the other issue that Senator Rubio and some others pressed him on was the Philippines —
MR. TONER: Yes.
QUESTION: — and whether or not President Duterte and his government have committed human rights abuses in their war against narcotics and other drugs. And again, as with – in the case of Russia and Syria, Mr. Tillerson said he was not – he didn’t have enough information to make that determination. Has this Administration, this building, made a firm determination that, in fact, human rights abuses are being committed in the Philippines in this war on drugs?
MR. TONER: So, no. We are very concerned by reports of extrajudicial killings by or at the behest of the Philippine – or government authorities in the Philippines. And we have called for thorough and transparent investigations into these allegations, these credible allegations – any allegation of extrajudicial killings, we believe, and strongly urge the Philippine authorities to ensure that its law enforcement’s – law enforcement officials act in a way that’s consistent with international norms and laws.
But we have not made a determination yet that this is indeed what’s happening.”
Denunciation and virtual condemnation of Digong’s war againsts illegal drugs based on allegations?! Against a supposed “special” friend?! Sino ang hindi magagalit n’yan?
Mr. Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, said during his confirmation hearing in the US Senate that he needs more information on the human rights situation in the Philippines before making a judgment on it.
“You’re asking me to make a decision based on information I have heard today… I want to see the factual basis based on statistics and factual evidence based on who is committing,” Tillerson said.
Moreover, he said he will rely on multiple sources before making a conclusion on the matter.
Could it be that the State Department boys and girls are now trying to adjust to the emerging apparent approach of dealing with the Philippines by the incoming Trump administration? That would appear to be the case.
He has his faults. Who doesn’t? But no matter how one looks at it, there is no way s/he can belittle Digong’s accomplishments in promoting the national interest, especially in our relations with the big powers.
He has succeeded in improving our ties with China, Japan and Russia where others before him have failed .
According to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, in just three months Digong was able to raise about $9 billion each from China and Japan in Official Development Assistance (ODA).
Digong also obtained $24 billion in aid pledges from China while Japanese conglomerate Marubeni pledged to invest $17.2 billion in the water, power and infrastructure sectors of the country.
Russia, on the other hand, has also categorically offered assistance, particularly in the procurement of our military requirements. She also expressed her wish to expand trade and cultural ties with us.
At the same time, Digong also managed to clarify his position vis-à-vis the US. His tirades against the outgoing Obama administration were brought about by nothing more than the shabby treatment Washington has been dishing out to us for as long as anyone can remember.
There are indications from the incoming Trump administration that such an attitude would change in three days.
Amidst all these, Digong also made sure the world is now aware that the Philippines would give respect, “especially when we are also accorded respect”, to our friends in the international community.
As presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said: “The President is very keen that the Philippines is respected and its sovereignty, independence is respected.”
In other words, Digong wants an independent foreign policy that is friendly to all who would be friends (real friends, not patrons) with us.
Is that too much to ask? Why have our past leaders failed to make that message clear to the US? Because all of them, without exception, were willing lapdogs of our former colonial master. Unfortunately, many of their ilk are still around.
Now, they claim that Digong is anti-US?! How so? Because he demands fairer treatment from her?
I am hopeful that before Digong’s term ends, these unenlightened relics of the past will see the light and believe that what he is doing is truly best for the country and our people.
We only have to look at many of our neighbors with independent foreign policies. Not only were they able to catch up to us. We are now eating their dust!
I have seen with my own eyes the economic and physical transformation, mainly through self-reliance, of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and India during my years in the Foreign Service and after. Heartbreaking!
Today is the 265th day of the tenth year of Jonas Burgos’ enforced disappearance.
The family and friends of Jonas hope that the Duterte administration will not be part of the continuing cover-up. The Burgos family implores Digong to haul the perpetrators to justice and bring Jonas back home even with the appointment of Gen. Eduardo Ano as AFP chief who was implicated in the abduction of Jonas almost ten years ago.
From an internet friend:
A brunette goes to the doctor and says, “Everywhere I touch it hurts.” He asks, “What do you mean?” So, she showed him what she meant. She touched her knee and said “Ouch!” Then she touched her chest and said, “Ouch!” Then her shoulder, “Ouch!” The doctor looks at her and asks, “You’re really blonde, aren’t you?” She replies, “Yes, as a matter of fact I am. How did you guess?” Doctor says, “Well your finger is broken.”