Rodrigo Duterte

Duterte at Nikkei forum: Bigger nations shouldn’t exploit smaller ones

Pia Ranada
Duterte at Nikkei forum: Bigger nations shouldn’t exploit smaller ones

DUTERTE'S MESSAGE. President Rodrigo Duterte has consistently called for countries to cooperate better to defeat COVID-19.

Malacañang

The Philippine President also calls for greater global solidarity in the fight against COVID-19: 'We are only as strong as our weakest link'

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, in his second Nikkei Future of Asia Conference, said powerful countries should not take advantage of smaller countries in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and regional security.

Duterte, one of the leaders who spoke at the virtual forum on Friday, May 21, said the world’s powerful countries should “resist the temptation to pursue interests at the expense of smaller countries, in plain defiance of international law,” according to details provided by Malacañang.

Countries in Asia, he said, should “act responsibly within a system of norms, commitments, and obligations.”

As in previous speeches before other world leaders, the Philippine President called for the peaceful resolution of disputes in line with international law.

“We have to work together – not against each other – to achieve common ends,” he said.

Call for global solidarity vs COVID-19

More specifically in relation to the COVID-19 global health crisis, Duterte appealed for “greater solidarity” for collective and coordinated responses to the pandemic.

“We are only as strong as our weakest link as a country and as a region, and as one global community,” said Duterte.

As vaccinations kicked into high gear in countries like the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Israel, and other developed countries, Duterte had bemoaned the lack of vaccine supply for poorer countries like the Philippines.

In December, he even issued an ultimatum to the United States, a long-time military ally of the Philippines, to provide him with vaccines or else he would end a decades-old military pact, the Visiting Forces Agreement.

Days before the Nikkei forum, Duterte had also been heavily criticized for saying China was “in possession” of the West Philippine Sea and that the 2016 Hague ruling won by the Philippines against China should just be thrown in the trash.

Lawmakers and experts have said those remarks have weakened the country’s stance on the West Philippine Sea and sent dangerous and confusing signals to China and Philippine allies.

They also appear contrary to Duterte’s remarks at the Nikkei forum, where he called for respect in international law, of which the Hague ruling, as a decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, is now a part.

But Duterte is notorious for contradicting speeches prepared by Malacañang and foreign affairs staff in his extemporaneous or off-the-cuff remarks. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.