#AnimatED: ‘Go away, EU, US!’ Now what’s the plan?
Truth to tell, President Rodrigo Duterte was spot on when he pointed out the hypocrisy of countries and institutions that had criticized his war on drugs for the wave of killings it had spurred.
The United States? “Poor black people [are] being shot defenseless” there. Does it remember how it massacred hundreds of Moros in Jolo a century ago? The European Union? It’s been turning away refugees and leaving them dying at sea.
When he told America that its troops’ joint exercises with the Philippine military in early October would be the last during his term, not everybody protested. We realized, while we have been Washington’s oldest and supposedly closest ally on this continent, analysts say, it has shipped our way only hand-me-down military equipment while funnelling billions of dollars in defense assistance to non-traditional allies.
But we sat up, alarmed, when he blurted out last week that the EU and the US could “go away” and “take [their] money to somewhere else.” He’s trying, he says, to solve the drug problem here. He curses and launches tirades. They’re meddling, he insists. They're threatening to rethink the flow of assistance to the Philippines. “If you think it's high time for you guys to withdraw your assistance, go ahead. We will not beg for it.”
We have reasons to be uneasy.
The only thing clear to most Filipinos is that the EU and the US, along with UN agencies, are among the biggest sources of aid to the Philippines. When Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) practically wiped out parts of Eastern Visayas in 2013, they accounted for more than a fourth of the donations that came. Their combined aid for projects related to health, education, peace, poverty alleviation, and food security across the country have amounted to billions of dollars.
The immediate past foreign secretary says development assistance from the US currently stands at over $4 billion. The Philippines was the 5th largest beneficiary of a trade program that eliminates tariff for selected imports into the US. It has just gained beneficiary country status in a similar trade program of the EU.
In contrast, President Duterte has yet to present us with a plan on how we will survive without assistance from or partnership with these 3. “Has anyone in government sat down to calculate the probable loss of economic benefits if we pursue the policy we are now pursuing in the name of an independent foreign policy?” former top diplomat Alberto del Rosario asked in a recent lecture.
We’re afraid nobody in the Duterte government has done the math. The President, after all, is known for blurting policies that take even his own Cabinet secretaries by surprise. And these announcements are made not after some deliberation but when some other quarters’ call or concern strikes him as non-appreciation for his war on drugs or a slight to his ego.
So far, the alternative that the President has been brandishing is that he will instead “go to China and Russia,” considered the nemeses of the US. What we know is that, the last time China poured in development assistance into the Philippines, it made our government, under Gloria Arroyo, agree to a joint exploration of the Spratlys, in terms that effectively acknowledged our exclusive economic zone as disputed territory.
“If you think it's high time for you guys to withdraw your assistance, go ahead. We will not beg for it.”
“How do you look at us, mendicants?”
“Even if we face hardships, we will survive…. But we will never, never compromise our dignity as Filipinos.”
Sure, we’re fired up by the rhetoric. We share the desire to, as a leftist leader puts it, “break free from the colonial mentality that has debilitated us as a nation.”
We cannot, however, stand on an empty boast in the face of a globalized economy and the realness of our poverty. – Rappler.com