CNN: Duterte warned of int’l isolation

A foreign relations expert warned of the likelihood that the Duterte administration is "stumbling" toward international isolation as a result of the vitriolic statements of President Duterte, the latest of which was his calling US Ambassador Philip Goldberg as "a gay son of a bitch."

Dr. Mathew Davies, head of the International Relations Department at The Australian National University, said in a CNN commentary that an "isolated Philippines would significantly weaken the US position both directly and indirectly."

Davies, who specializes in Southeast Asian politics, said shortly after his landslide victory, Duterte received a phone call from US President Obama in which Obama emphasized the shared democratic values that tie the two countries together and underlie the US-Philippines alliance.

"Duterte clearly was not listening, and in the most recent in a growing list of unacceptable slurs, he has called US Ambassador to Manila, Philip Goldberg, 'a gay son of a bitch.'"

Davies said the slur came amid Duterte's "ongoing general skepticism regarding the value of human rights - seen most clearly in his open embrace of violence as part of a push against both drug dealers and addicts."

Relatedly, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said that it will stop cooperating with Duterte's undemocratic and anti-people drug war.

"The anti-drug war of the Duterte regime has rapidly spiralled into a frenzied campaign of extra-judicial killings and vigilante murders perpetrated by the police and by police-linked criminal syndicates. Nearly 1,000 people have been killed in just a little more than one month," the CPP said in a statement.

"The rights of tens upon thousands of people are being violated as the criminal justice system is upturned. Police officials have brazenly carried out summary killings against suspected drug peddlers and users. Hundreds have been killed while 'resisting arrest' or while under custody and detention, in police cars as well as in jails," it added.

Davies said Duterte's assumption of the presidency was widely predicted to lead to a chill in the bilateral relationship with Washington, "with analysts expecting a hedging strategy, seeking to play off the US and China."

He noted that Duterte's homophobic slur on Goldberg "reveals not a well-conceived strategy to hedge between superpowers, but a country stumbling towards a dangerous isolation."

"Duterte's comments reveal that US power, and the order it creates, also rests on social bonds of shared values, outlooks and expectations. The US order is strengthened when the values of its partners align with its own, and that order frays when those values are contested," he said.

Ha said Duterte's statements, "perhaps not even all his actions taken together, do not have to mark the beginning of the end of the US-Philippines alliance" but he said it is in the interests of both sides to underline that this should be the end of the first phase of Duterte's stewardship of this most important relationship.

Drugs war 'anti-people' - CPP

Duterte's "drug war" has clearly become anti-people and anti-democratic. Human rights are being violated with impunity by police personnel, emboldened by Duterte's assurances of "I got your back" and his public declarations of contempt against human rights, the CPP statement read.

The CPP, which is scheduled to hold preliminary talks for a peace agreement with the government next week in Oslo, Norway, said the Duterte regime has unleashed unmitigated violence and threats of violence against the people, mostly victims and people at the lowest rungs of the criminal syndicate ladder.

"In contrast, the suspected big drug lords and their protectors are afforded courtesy calls to MalacaAang, accommodations in Camp Crame's guest house and preliminary investigations by the NBI. The worst that they have been made to undergo is to suffer the lectures of the PNP (Philippine National Police) chief (Ronald de la Rosa).

What was before the burden of the accuser to prove someone's guilt is now the burden of the accused to prove his innocence, it said.

"Duterte has come up with one list after another of so-called protectors, narco-politicians and judges without proof nor clear basis for accusations of their involvement in drugs. He could not even tell the people how the lists were drawn. It is a mystery even to the chief intelligence officer and head of the PNP," the CPP statement said.

The CPP said Duterte "has become so full of himself and intoxicated with the vast power he is not used to handle that he thinks he can get away with upturning the criminal judicial system and denouncing people for defending human rights."

"He dishes out threats of imposing martial law. He has made himself a laughing stock among legal circles. He, however, is not laughing and threatens anyone who chooses to stand in his way," it added.

"Duterte's "drug war" is bound to fail because it does not address the socio-economic roots of the problem. It has been proven in history that no amount of killing will succeed in putting an end to the drug menace. After ten years of the "anti-drug war" in Mexico, and with almost 80,000 people killed, the intensity of the drug problem remains the same if not worse. In Thailand, around 3,000 people were killed from 2003 to 2005, at least half of whom were later proved to be not involved in drugs. The drug problem has become worse," it added.

"In all likelihood, many of the summary and vigilante killings are being carried out by the criminal syndicates who use the "anti-drug war" as camouflage for waging all-out war against their rivals and their rival protectors in the police, bureaucracy and judiciary or to rub-out their own men. It would be no surprise that the information made public by Duterte about police protectors, narco-politicians and judges were fed to him by rival criminal syndicates," according to the CPP.

DFA responds to US concerns

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) also issued a statement yesterday assuring the United States government of its adherence to the rule of law and protection of rights after the US State Department raised concerns over the manner at which Duterte's declared war on drugs is being implemented.

According to the state news agency Philippine News Agency, the DFA statement said the Philippines does not condone the spate of vigilante killings of drug suspects in the country.

"The Philippine government is focused on its peace and order efforts, including the eradication of illicit drugs and its manufacture, distribution and use from our society. Nevertheless, while pursuing this objective, the Philippine government is committed to the rule of law, and the protection of human rights of all," the DFA said.

"Law enforcement officials are expected to abide by legal procedures and strict operational protocols. Alleged violations of these protocols will be investigated by the authorities and those who have broken the law will be prosecuted," it added.

The US Embassy issued a statement lasy Friday expressing alarm over the rising death toll in the administration's antidrug campaign.

The DFA also welcomed the US Embassy's reaffirmation of the broad-ranging relationship between the Philippines and the United States, "and the importance of the strategic alliance vis-A�-vis our shared values and shared goals."

"We look to the substantial and meaningful assistance of the United States in pursuit of our own national objectives, especially in addressing the issues of counterterrorism, maritime security and economic cooperation," the statement said.

Source: Daily Tribune