January 23, 2018, 11:31 pm
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Duterte’s foreign affairs goals (1)

A brief review of Duterte’s finished and still unfinished goals during his first year as Philippine President and Rizal Day celebration.

The foreign policy endeavors of President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017 have been proven to be effective in winning political goodwill.

As Duterte put in his own words, “China is the only country to come out freely with a firm statement that they are supporting the fight against drugs in my country.”

China, Duterte believes, understands his efforts to eliminate illegal drugs and is doing something to help, unlike the United States and the European Union which are critical of his administration’s anti-drug war.

Duterte’s positive perception of China, as some geo-political observers noted, is expected to result in the continued stability in bilateral relations during his term as President of the Philippines.

As China’s Premier Li Keqiang put it during his official visit to Manila, after the 2017 Asean Summit last November, showed a significant improvement in the relationship through tangible agreements for functional cooperation.

The Philippines and China signed major deals in industrial parks, defense industry, intellectual property, and environment and natural resources. In addition, the Chinese government poured in million-dollar investments to fund the construction of much-needed dams, railways, inter-island bridges in the Philippines, as well as provided a grant of 23 million US dollars for the recovery and reconstruction efforts in the war-torn city of Marawi in Mindanao after it was liberated from the Maute-ISIS terrorist group.

The grants and investments indicate how China capitalizes on its growing economic clout to push for more positive engagement in the Philippines, the same observers pointed out. 

But what is notable, as the same observers put it, is China’s generosity towards a country that it has diversified its grants and assistance to gain political goodwill from President Duterte. While China focuses on infrastructure development as a staple in its overseas investment portfolio, such as the Belt and Road Initiative, it has also provided financial assistance in combating illegal drugs in the Philippines.

Currently, China is involved in the construction of four mega drug rehabilitation and treatment centers in the country, and has offered to fund projects to fight the proliferation of illegal drugs under the law enforcement security with the Philippines.

These endeavors to support a well-known personal advocacy of Duterte have proven to be effective in winning political goodwill. 

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President Rodrigo Roa Duterte led other high government officials, including Vice President Leni Robredo and Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada, in commemorating the 121st anniversary of Dr. Jose P. Rizal’s martyrdom, whose monument stands at the Luneta Park in Manila last Saturday, December 30, 2017.

In his statement, President Duterte said that the Philippines’ National Hero denounced the corruption, greed and other socials ills that up to this day continue to plague our society. In his own words, the President said that Rizal “even in death, imparted upon us his aspirations for a nation that is free from the scourge of injustice, tyranny and suffering,” 

On the other hand, in the view of a French historian, Rizal was more than a hero. He stood up for principles that do not change, such as justice and freedom.

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(“Duterte’s foreign affairs goals – (Part 2)” continued on January 9, Tuesday, 2018)
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