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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s US Rehetoric Raises Concern

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Rodrigo Duterte
  • Duterte’s US Rehetoric Raises Concern

There is no doubt that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is not a fan of the US and that his harsh rhetoric against the country’s closest and oldest foreign ally is genuine.

Insisting that the Philippines will survive without US assistance and support, Duterte has refused to stop his foul-mouthed tirades against the US after declaring a “separation” from the country’s former colonizer during a visit to China last week.

“Even if we are just poor, do not fuck with our dignity,” he told a cheering crowd of Filipinos in Tokyo on Tuesday on the first day of his three-day visit to Japan.

Before leaving Manila, the 71-year-old president even threatened to revoke a defence pact which allowed US troops more access to the Philippines.

“Forget it,” he said, referring to the enhanced defence cooperation agreement signed in 2014.

“I do not want to see any military man of any other nation except the Filipino soldiers.”

While analysts agree that the Philippines needs to chart its own foreign policy, free from any outside interference, they warned that Duterte’s anti-Americanism could eventually hurt the country.

“The US is giving us some slack now,” professor of political science Aries Arugay from the University of the Philippines, told dpa.

“However, it doesn’t mean they will not punish us. The US as a superpower has always used the discipline and punish approach.”

“It will let you be, but there will be repercussions,” he added.

The US is one of the largest foreign investors in the Philippines, with investments totalling more than 730 million dollars in 2015.

It is also the country’s third-largest trading partner and home to over 3.4 million Filipinos, making them the second largest group of Asian immigrants in the US after those from China.

In 2015, the Philippines received some 175 million dollars in US development assistance, and a total of 50 million dollars in military financing.

Before Duterte became president in June, the US pledged more than 120 million dollars in military aid, double the amount Washington normally gives each year.

Arugay noted it was not the first time the Philippines had distanced itself from the US, citing a 1992 Senate vote against extending the lease of American military bases in the country.

In 2004, the Philippines also withdrew its peacekeeping forces from Iraq, contrary to the US’ will, after a Filipino was abducted by rebels who threatened to execute him if Filipino soldiers were not pulled out.

“We were punished for that,” Arugay said. The US was not supporting us [for some time], forcing [then president] Gloria Arroyo to tilt towards China.”

Duterte said he was not worried about losing US aid and investment, noting that he would instead work to boost economic ties with China and Japan.

“We will survive,” he said. “Maybe at this time, not all Filipinos would look too kindly about my stand.

But in the years to come, the next generation, they would know that there is such a thing in this world as the dignity of the Filipino people.”

Businessmen and politicians have urged Duterte to be circumspect in his foreign policy pronouncements, with one lawmaker noting that the Philippines would be at the losing end if it completely broke from the US and cozied up to China.

Congressman Gary Alejano reminded Duterte of the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China over the South China Sea, where Chinese encroachment has prevented Filipinos from fishing in the area.

“The more the Philippine economy is exposed to China, the more our economy becomes dependent on them, the less our power to assert will be, pertaining to our territorial conflict in the West Philippine Sea,” Alejano said.

Arugay noted that while the majority of Filipinos love America, many also shared Duterte’s resentment over perceived unfair treatment which the country had received from the US.

“Even the most pro-American Filipino will admit that the Americans have not really given what is due to us,” he said.

“But our anti-Americanism is fleeting. Whether we like it or not, we like the US.”

Arugay said Duterte may only be hedging in his diplomatic play with the US, but warned he was playing a risky game if he continued to unleash anti-American attacks and later backtracks.

“What is being jeopardized is our ability to make credible commitments,” he said.

“Who will believe us if we keep on changing our stand. If this continues, our ability to credibly commit to anything in the international arena will be questioned and we will not be taken seriously.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

Buhari Declares Oct 1 Public Holiday

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Muhammadu Buhari

The Federal Government has declared Thursday, October 1, 2020, as a public holiday to commemorate Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary.

The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, who made the declaration, congratulated all Nigerians on the celebration of the country’s Diamond Jubilee while stressing the government’s commitment to the socio-economic transformation of the country.

This was contained in a statement titled, ‘FG Declares Thursday, October 1, 2020, Public Holiday To Mark Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary’ and signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Georgina Ehuriah.

According to the statement, the minister praised Nigerians for the feats in economy, education, the creative sector, amongst others.

The statement also quoted Aregbesola as saying, “Though celebrating sixty years of independence really calls for pomp and pageantry, but with the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced all nations in the world to think and act cautiously, we cannot avoid the imperative of a low-keyed celebration at this time.”

It added, “While wishing Nigerians a fruitful independence celebration, he reminded them of the fact that our founding fathers, in spite of the differences in faith, tribe and tongue came together for Nigeria’s independence.”

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INEC To Introduce E-voting, Talking to Machine Manufacturers

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INEC Commences Process of Introducing E-voting, Discussing With Manufacturers

The Independent National Electoral Commission on Monday said it has commenced plans to replace manual voting with an electronic voting system.

According to Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed this during the demonstration of electronic voting machines, the commission has invited manufacturers of electronic voting machines around the world to demonstrate how the machines work and preparatory to the full migration.

He said, “Over the years, the commission has been automating the critical pillars of the process. The biometric register of voters has been updated continuously. At the moment, the INEC register of voters is the largest database of citizens in Nigeria.

“In addition, the combination of biometric voter cards commonly known as the Permanent Voter Card and the Smart Card Reader have revolutionised the accreditation of voters during elections.

“More recently, the introduction of a number of portals has facilitated the seamless nomination of candidates for elective offices by political parties as well as the accreditation of observers and the media.

“Most significantly, the commission now uploads polling unit level results in real-time on Election Day to a portal for public view. These are significant innovations that have deepened the transparency and credibility of elections and the electoral process in Nigeria.

“The commission developed the specifications of the functions required of the machine. After extensive discussion and review, the commission took the decision to invite original manufacturers of electronic voting machines around the world for a virtual or practical demonstration of the machines.”

Yakubu explained that more than 40 companies have indicated interest and would be demonstrating to the commission how the IT solutions meet its specifications.

“The commission is aware that Nigerians want us to deepen the use of technology in elections. Let me reassure Nigerians that the commission is committed to expediting the process leading to the deployment of the EVMs in elections in earnest,” the INEC chairman said.

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Mali Sworn In Bah Ndaw as Transition President

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Malian Mutinying Soldiers

Mali’s interim president, Bah Ndaw, chosen to head a transitional government following a coup last month, was sworn in during ceremonies in the capital Bamako on Friday, AFP journalists witnessed.

A committee appointed by the junta which seized power on August 18, toppling President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, selected Ndaw, a 70-year-old retired colonel, as interim president.

Ndaw is due to lead a transition government for a maximum of 18 months before organising national elections.

Colonel Assimi Goita, who led the military junta, was also sworn in as interim vice president.

The ceremony on Friday took place in a theatre filled with officials dressed in military fatigues, senior judges, and foreign diplomats.

During the ceremony, Supreme Court Chief Prosecutor Boya Dembele said the challenges facing both men were “enormous”.

“It will truly require a reformulation of the state,” said the judge, dressed in red fur-lined robes.

The swearing-in comes as the fragile Sahel state’s neighbours have leaned on the military junta to appoint civilians as interim president and prime minister.

The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) slapped sanctions on the poor country on August 20 to push for a swift return to civilian rule.

A decision by the bloc on whether to ease the measure is possible on Friday, according to former Nigerian president and ECOWAS mediator Goodluck Jonathan.

“We are optimistic that this event will signal the beginning of the return to normalcy in Mali,” he said on Twitter on Thursday night, referring to the swearing in of interim-government leaders.

Last month’s coup followed weeks of mass protests against Keita, spurred by frustrations over a brutal jihadist conflict, perceived corruption and the country’s slumping economy.

Mali has struggled to quell an eight-year-old Islamist insurgency which has claimed thousands of military and civilian lives.

AFP

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