Is Philippine President Duterte Boldly Challenging America?
by Stephen Lendman
Rodrigo Duterte is unlike previous Philippine leaders, subservient to US interests, going along to get along.
Earlier this month, he called Obama a “son-of-a-bitch,” warning him not to criticize his extrajudicial killing policy, aimed at eliminating drug kingpins and dealers - reminding him of America’s longstanding deplorable record of unaccountable assassinations at home and abroad.
On Monday, he challenged Washington again, calling for removal of US forces from Jolo and Basilan islands, saying:
“These special forces…have to go. I do not want a rift with America, but they have to go.” They’ve been in the southern Philippines since 2002, supposedly to train and advise government forces during Operation Enduring Freedom - Philippines.
Around 1,200 US forces were originally deployed, small numbers remaining for so-called logistics and technical support after the operation ended in 2015.
The 1987 Philippine Constitution prohibits foreign military bases on its territory. Article XVIII, Section 25 states:
“(F)oreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate and, when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”
In 1991, US forces were withdrawn from Clark Air Base. Subic Bay withdrawal in late 1992 followed. Under a longstanding Mutual Defense Treaty, both nations agreed to defend each other against armed attack - a sort of bilateral NATO-type arrangement, Washington controlling things, continuing to treat the Philippines like a colony.
In 1999, its Senate ratified the Visiting Forces Agreement, permitting US forces on Philippine territory for joint military exercises and so-called defense cooperation.
Duterte blamed Washington’s military presence for inflaming Muslim population tensions. (A)s long as we stay with America, we will never have peace,” he said, adding he’s reorienting the country’s foreign policy.
According to State Department spokesman admiral John Kirby, Washington is “not aware of any official communication” to remove US special forces.
Saying he’s “not fighting with America,” is Duterte’s get tough policy rhetorical or a new approach to dealing with Washington?
It’s not easy challenging its hegemonic power, especially for smaller nations unable to stop whatever it intends to do.
A Final Comment
In response to US War Secretary Ashton Carter’s Big Lie, claiming Russia undermines the international order, its Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, blasted US imperial policy, saying:
“It is the United States, alongside their Western partners, who have consistently destroyed the basic foundations of the existing world, starting with” the rape of Yugoslavia to all its post-9/11 wars still raging.
Instead of admitting responsibility and mending its ways, it “blam(es) everything on Russia, China and other countries with an independent outlook.”
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.