Minority senators: Filipinos will pay the price for Duterte’s foul words

Camille Elemia
Minority senators: Filipinos will pay the price for Duterte’s foul words
'We will all pay the price for this. He's speaking for all Filipinos,' says Minority Leader Ralph Recto

MANILA, Philippines – Minority senators expressed concern over President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest tirade against US President Barack Obama.

On Tuesday, October 4, Duterte again lashed out at the US leader, who has been critical of the administration’s drug war.

“Mr Obama, you can go to hell. EU [European Union], better choose purgatory. Puno na ang impiyerno. Bakit ako matakot sa inyo? (Hell is full. Why should I be scared of you?)” said Duterte.

Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto once again called out Duterte’s attacks against international leaders, especially the US. 

 “I don’t think it is proper for the President to make offensive remarks to the President of the United States, hindi ba (right)? Sa tingin ko, mali ‘yun (I think that’s wrong),” Recto told reporters on Wednesday, October 5.

The senator warned it is the Filipino people who will ultimately pay the price for Duterte’s actions.

“‘Yung hindi magandang salita ng Pangulo, lahat tayo magbabayad diyan (We will all pay for the foul words of the President). We will all pay the price for this. He’s speaking for all Filipinos,” Recto said.

He earlier urged the President to be cautious, saying that Duterte could scare investors.

Impact on economy 

Case in point, the senator said, is the economy’s possible decline. Recto said the Philippine peso is now expected to depreciate further due to “political risk.”

“Halimbawa, ‘yung piso, humihina na nga, hindi ba? Mayroon ngayong nagsasabi na puwedeng pumalo sa P50 to one, may political risk. At ang political risk na ‘yan, tatamaan ang ekonomiya natin for sure. May implication lahat ‘yan,” Recto said.

(For example, the peso is already weakening, right? There are those who say it could reach P50 to 1 dollar, there’s a political risk. And that political risk would hit our economy for sure. There will be implications.)

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV shared the same sentiment, and expressed concern for thousands of Filipinos in the US.

“Alam ‘nyo, ‘yung mga kababayan sa US, they’re placed in an awkward position. Nag-ju-justify sila sa mga Amerikano, ibang lahi doon, kung bakit gano’n ang Presidente,” said Trillanes, one of Duterte’s fiercest critics in the Senate.

(You know, our fellowmen in the US, they’re placed in an awkward position. They have to justify to the Americans and other races there why the President is like that.)

Duterte’s words, Trillanes added, have already affected these people’s social circles and livelihood.

“Nahihirapan sila sa workplace nila, social groups, so ‘yun na nga, I hope mahinto na rin ‘yan,” Trillanes said.

(They have difficulty in their workplace, social groups. So I hope this would be stopped.)

‘Conflicting’ foreign policy

Recto said he is set to file a resolution seeking to clarify the administration’s foreign policy.

Aside from criticizing the US, the country’s strongest Western ally, Duterte has said he would rather go to Russia or to China, which is locked in a maritime dispute with the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Both Vice President Leni Robredo and former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario have pointed out, however, that the Philippines does not have to reject its existing allies in order to gain new ones.

Duterte and other government officials have also given conflicting statements on US relations, such as on the issue of joint military exercises.

“Linawin natin ‘yan. What is his pivot all about, even to Russia or China, kung saka-sakali?” Recto said.

(Let’s clarify that. What is his pivot all about, even to Russia or China, if ever?)

“We’re preparing a resolution to seek clarity from the executive, saan ba papunta ang foreign policy natin (where is our foreign policy heading)?” he added.

Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV earlier filed Resolution No. 158, saying there is a need for the government to clarify its “conflicting” statements on foreign policy. – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com