In a three week period, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has stood up to the EU and Canada and in so doing, has made it clear that the dignity of the Filipino nation is not for sale to anyone. Far from harming the country economically, Duterte’s moves taken on matters of principle, will actually help Manila grow closer to countries which do not conduct foreign relations on the basis of political blackmail, neo-imperialist racism or ideological dogmas. While the Philippines continues to welcome pan-ASEAN cooperation and under Duterte, the country continues to pursue ever closer trade relations with China and Russia, it will be former western “partners” who will lose out on ending their relationship with The Philippines which is one of the top ten fastest growing economies in the world. It is the price the west will ultimately have to pay for its stubborn refusal to embrace the multipolar realities of the 21st century.
Firstly, on the 6th of February, Duterte rejected an invitation to visit the EU, stating that he would not sit and be “insulted” by neo-liberal EU leaders. Then on the 9th of February Duterte cancelled the purchase of Canadian helicopters after Ottawa began openly questioning whether it was prudent to sell to Manila.
At the time, Duterte stated,
“So this is my reaction. I want to tell the armed forces to cut the deal … and somehow we will look for another supplier. We respect the stand of Canada.
So from here on now, I am directing the armed forces of the Philippines, since most of the guns, bullets and whatever, weapons of war … invariably to be used against the rebels and the terrorists, do not buy any more from Canada. Or from the United States, because there is always a condition attached”.
As I wrote at the time,
“Duterte has shied away from purchasing weapons from the US in particular, because he has repeatedly stated that there is always a political condition attached to such deals. By contrast, Duterte has welcomed security deals with China and Russia which do not make deals with political strings attached. This is of course the same Canadian government which recently admitted that weapons it sold to Saudi Arabia are likely being used in Riyadh’s brutal war on Yemen.
In October of 2017, A Russian Naval Flotilla docked in Manila harbour bearing a good will gift of free security weapons for the armed forces of Philippines. Among the weapons Russia gifted to Philippines were 5000 AK-74M Kalashnikov assault rifles, 20 armoured military vehicles and 1 million rounds of ammunition.
Duterte has frequently praised Russia and China for their positive stance regarding the security situation in Philippines which has in recent years seen the Daesh aligned Maute group occupy the Mindanao city Marawi before its penultimate liberation by the armed forces in October of 2017. Additionally, Philippines continues to battle armed al-Qaeda linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters as well as far-left guerrilla groups.
Canada’s loss will be a win-win gain for Philippines and a new security partner – quite possibly Russia or China”
Now, as the EU attempts to use its economic strength to leverage its position over the domestic policies of The Philippines, Duterte has stood up for Filipino values, while refusing to submit his country to colonisation through the back door in the form of trade deals that require Brussels dictating the way The Philippines is governed in exchange for allegedly favourable trade deals.
Duterte slammed the EU saying,
“These whites, they’re crazy. The problem here, this Europe now and these Americans, they want to impose their values on our race. Europe wanted to give financial assistance with a condition.
I said, ‘You go to hell, I don’t need your money. Do not talk to me about values and anything”.
Indeed, the EU/US style of trade relations with Asia is tarred by a racist mindset whereby US Dollars and Euros will only be given to Asian countries so long they submit to European style political systems, legislation and social morality. It is a racist zero-sum mentality that always leaves Asian partners with the short end of the stick and ultimately serves as a means of reinforcing humiliation upon independent nations.
By contrast, the win-win model of trade and international relations as characterised by China’s win-win model, seeks to reach respectful agreements where each side is able to play to its inherent strengths while utilising the assets of a bilateral partner to enrich countries in areas where domestic capabilities fall short. This modern model of multipolarity is pragmatic and moral, while the old colonial model short changes both sides in the long term, while feeding the racism of a long dead imperial past through the use of economic imperialism.
President Rodrigo Duterte has realised this trap door that is implicit in many dealing with western powers and his decided against letting his country sink into this trap. Ultimately The Philippines will be best served by pursuing win-win deals among ASEAN with China, Russia and respectful countries of Middle East.
Once again, Duterte has demonstrated that he understands where the future of global connectivity lies and also where the most positive future for his country lies – it is certainly not among countries who look down in The Philippines in spite of the fact that the economy of The Philippines is growing far faster than that of the European Union.