MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to strengthen Philippines-China ties was in anticipation of a Trump presidency, said Malacañang.
“The pivot to China was a preparation for the presidency of the new [US] president whose protectionist policies are expected to maybe affect remittances from abroad,” said Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella, quoting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia in a press conference on Friday, November 11.
Pernia, in a text to Rappler, however said, “I actually said that half in jest, namely that the President is perhaps a clairvoyant who may have foreseen Trump’s win – reason why he decided to pivot to China, thereby being better integrated with the Asian economy and diversifying our foreign economic relations.”
Duterte’s shift to China, said Abella, has given the Philippines a “safety net” to rely on, given what a Trump presidency in the US might mean for the country.
“We do have a safety net which the President seems to have foreseen,” said Abella, again quoting Pernia.
Trump, who has called the Philippines a “terrorist nation”, has vowed to create more jobs for Americans and introduce stricter policies for immigrants. The Philippine economy relies heavily on remittances from overseas Filipino workers, many of whom are based in the US. (READ: Trump victory to affect BPO industry, OFWs – PH lawmakers)
American business process outsourcing companies are also a significant contributor to the Philippine economy.
Duterte has said a Trump presidency will not affect his determination for the Philippines to forge an independent foreign policy.
“My partnership with China and the rest of the ASEAN remains. I will sail the state of the nation, and it should be pushed by the wind of self-interest only, the self-interest of our nation,” he said upon returning to the Philippines from Malaysia early Friday morning.
The previous day, Duterte said he would rather not pick a fight with the new US president, in stark contrast to his open hostility to incumbent US President Barack Obama. – Rappler.com
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