The United States, like many others, seems to have made some adjustments for President Duterte’s actions and statements.
Speaking with media while visiting in Beijing, China, last October 29, Deputy Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said President Duterte may have gotten Beijing to follow – even if only in part – the Arbitral Court ruling that the Scarborough Shoal is a traditional fishing ground that should remain open to all who have long been fishing there.
“Indeed there are some signs … with regard to Scarborough that China may be acting in accordance with the arbitration decision. That could be a very positive development,” Blinken said. His statement was posted on the department’s website.
American officials have been generally concerned about the new direction in which President Duterte has been leading the Philippines. One reaction has been a US senator’s opposing a planned US sale of some 26,000 assault rifles to the Philippines.
The State Department itself, however, has maintained that the US stands by its commitments to the Philippines, despite President Duterte’s caustic remarks against President Obama and his announced intention to “separate” from the US. The President himself later clarified that “separation” is not “divorce.” He merely wants to forge a more independent foreign policy for the Philippines which, it must be said, has been much too dependent on the US.
President Duterte’s statements often delivered in impromptu speeches and in media interviews, have been variously explained, clarified, and interpreted, and Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella has appealed to all to consider them with some “creative imagination.”
Deputy Secretary of State Blinken may have taken Abella’s word of advice to heart and has now seen a positive side to the President’s recent moves in foreign affairs. With more of such openness, other critics may find many more positive sides to the moves of our new President.