Allies of President Rodrigo Duterte from the Makabayan bloc in Congress hailed Friday his decision to cut military and economic ties with the United States, saying it is time the country breaks away from a long standing one-sided relationship.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate lauded Duterte for taking the initiative to sever ties from the US, which the President announced before Chinese government and business leaders in Beijing on Thursday.
“The Philippines is at the strangle hold of the US and it is good that Pres. Duterte is now leading the way for us to break free from US oppression and exploitation,” he said in a statement.
The lawmaker noted that several agreements entered into by the Philippines with the US—such as the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA)—supposedly only served to further American interests.
He said the Philippine economy also continued to lag behind other countries even when there were investments from the US.
"While the US economy grew by plundering our country’s raw materials and making us a market for their surplus products, it is tragic that our own economy never became self-sufficient or industrialized due to the policies they imposed on our country,” Zarate said.
Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Jane Elago said Duterte’s announcement “must be welcomed with great admiration.”
“He is the first president to finally muster enough courage to part from Washington’s claws. It further stokes the patriotic spirit of the Filipino people,” she said.
Elago challenged Duterte to back up his pronouncements against Washington by concrete action such as the immediate pull-out of US troops in the country and defense treaties such as the EDCA, Mutual Defense Treaty, and the Visiting Forces Agreement.
While Duterte’s allies welcomed his decision to cut ties with US, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman believes the President’s statement is just hyperbole.
“He does not mean it. The country cannot afford to completely sever ties with traditional economic and security allies like the US. He is just catering to the goodwill of his Chinese hosts. Diplomacy is ‘polygamy.’ A country is ‘married’ to multiple allies,” he said.
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, for his part, believes Duterte’s personal feelings against the US have influenced his foreign policy.
“This is not at all judicious. Can't we have the best of both worlds? We love China. And we love the US. Personal dislike clouding judgment,” he tweeted.
Although Duterte’s allies hail his decision to break away from the US, they said he must also be cautious in dealing with China.
“Di na dapat maulit ng ibang bansa ang ginawa sa atin ng US na ginugulangan at inuuto-uto ka na tapos parang napakabait pa nila at napakalaki ng utang na loob nating mga Filipino sa kanila,” Zarate said.
Elago said fostering better relationship with China should not mean surrendering the Philippines’ claim to the West Philippine Sea.
“We cannot simply leave one bully to flee to the arms of another bully. While we can enter trade agreements with China, President Duterte must draw a clear line of demarcation: the Philippines should only accept partnerships that will be beneficial for the development of our domestic economy,” she said. —KBK, GMA News