June 19, 2018, 7:51 pm
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Why Duterte rejects confrontation

PRESIDENT Duterte speaks in incomplete sentences, often laced with curses and invectives against people and groups he perceives as critics or enemies, but nobody can dispute that he talks sense. His empirical knowledge of history is excellent, and his mastery of this field, among our presidents, may be challenged only by Ferdinand Marcos.

When Duterte proudly announced that he is pursuing an independent foreign policy, which in everyday geopolitical reality means veering away from the dominance and tutelage of the United States of America, the President even cited events in history during which the nation got the short end of the bargain from America.

Duterte, too, was courageous enough to open old wounds by mentioning the Balangiga Massacre of 1901 and return of the bells of Balangiga, Samar, and the atrocious Muslim massacres in Bud Dajo (March 5-8, 1906), among other historical depradations in the Philippines. 

Time and again, the Chief Executive has been on the receiving end of brickbats and caustic criticisms from Duterte bashers for being extra friendly to China. Duterte has been quietly handling these critics, choosing not to confront them vigorously as he had done to Sis. Patricia Fox and Sen. Leila de Lima. In a recent speech at the distribution of land titles in Mulanay, Quezon, the President explained why.

Duterte said the Maute Group and their ISIS backers, though defeated last year in Marawi, are still around and are capable of mounting another attack. On the Islamic State, Duterte said, “They are pushed out of the Middle East. Now they’re planning to establish a caliphate here in Southeast Asia. What country would be the most ideal to set up a camp? Where would they set up camp? What’s the logical place? Mindanao.”

The President said the Islamists would not find many infidels to kill in predominantly Muslim countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei so it is in the Southern Philippines that they will set up camp.

Faced with the imminent terror threat, Duterte said he has to keep his options open for seeking military help from the US or China in case hostilities erupt in Mindanao. The Chief Executive said his decision to avoid war with China over a territorial dispute was part of a strategy to seek China’s aid against security threat.

There is, in fact, an ongoing military cooperation between China and the Philippines against Islamist terrorism, inasmuch as both countries are have their restive Muslim populations.
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