Headlines Skinning Left, pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
Headlines ( Leaderboard Top ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Almonte says Duterte did exceptional job but..

The administration’s drug war has caused a friction between President Rodrigo Duterte and western nations, including its ally and treaty partner, the United States. AP/Bullit Marquez, file photo

MANILA, Philippines - President Rodrigo Duterte was “exceptional” in addressing internal conflict, broken politics and inequity but should change his colorful language as it can distract the nation, a former national security adviser said on Thursday.

Jose Almonte, who served as national security adviser during the Ramos administration, said Duterte is now confronting the three problems, which, according to him, needs to be solved to make the country prosperous.

“Based on what has been done in the last 100 days, I say it’s exceptional,” Almonte said.

Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

“What he did is not conventional. He assigned cabinet positions to known leftists. He arranged an indefinite ceasefire with the left and they are now negotiating the socioeconomic component of the peace process,” he added.

Almonte said the Philippines is still dealing with internal security problems including the longest communist insurgency in the world. He also cited what he described as the problem of “broken politics” wherein only a small group, in general, formulate the policies of the government.

The former national security adviser also stressed the need to address the problem of inequity caused by an “unholy alliance” between politics and business.

“I felt that if we can solve these three basic problems, the nation can be rich in a decade or less. If it is derailed, it will be tragic for all of us,” Almonte said.

“If we cannot solve these three problems, we can never build a Filipino nation the way we want it to be they must be solved and President Duterte is confronting them,” he added.

Colorful language

Almonte, however, said Duterte should try to change the way he expresses himself as this can cause distractions.

“If he can make his colorful statement colorless that is a big change for me,” he said.

“I would say that even the president may not –realize that it is not good. So I am hopeful that he will change when the time comes.”

Almonte said the issue of extrajudicial killings linked to the war on drugs can also distract the nation. More than 3,000 drug suspects, about half of them in law enforcement operations, have been killed since the president assumed office.

“The national attention is focused - and I cannot blame the nation - in terms of the extrajudicial killings, which is a component of the campaign against drugs. This is the concentration. And then the other one, the other concentration which distracts the nation is the colorful language of the president,” he added.

Amonte believes Duterte may change his anti-drug strategy once the problem becomes manageable.

“I think it’s not permanent. Now, we are not sure if this thing, you know, if the drug problem in his view is now manageable, he will change the strategy, I suppose. And I think, if you agree, he might change it sooner than later,” he said.

The administration’s drug crackdown has caused a friction between Duterte and western nations including the United States (US), the Philippines’ traditional ally and treaty partner.

The US, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations have called out Duterte for threatening to kill drug pushers and addicts and have asked him to uphold human rights and rule of law. The statements, however, did not sit well with Duterte, who claimed that the western nations are trying to meddle with the Philippines’ internal issues.

Duterte, in particular, was infuriated with US state department officials, whom he said embarrassed him before the international stage instead of helping the Philippines address the drug menace.

The president has threatened to cut ties with the US and just form alliances with China and Russia, countries that are perceived to be rivals of Washington. Officials, however, believe that the president was merely emphasizing the need for the Philippines to adopt a more independent foreign policy.

‘Make friends with everybody’

Almonte said the Philippines could still maintain its alliance with the US while forging ties with countries that are perceived as its enemies.

“We have to be friends of everybody. Even our enemies, we have to befriend them because they are potential friends. And you know, our friends could be potential enemies. This is the reality in the world. This is a reflection of who you are as a human being, and this is the raw material where we all play together,” he said.  

“The Philippines could remain as friends with our old allies like America, but at the same time, we can be friends of all others, even the enemies of America. And that will be the best policy, given in fact a situation where we are not as powerful as the rest.”

Almonte is convinced that a strong and a successful Philippines would be in the best interest of America.

“We are part of the so-called first line of defense. And given our situation, we are perceived by the region and the world as the weakest in the chain. So, it is in the interest of the allies that we become rich, we become prosperous because rather than a dependent partner, we will be not just an independent but a contributor to the partnership,” the former security official said.

“So, let me put it that way that—I’m not speaking, I’m not the spokesman of the United States, but let me say it categorically that it is in the interest of America that this nation progresses,” he added.  

Almonte said Dutetre’s recent pronouncements on the Philippines’ defense partnership with the US would have a negative impact “at the surface.”

“I say at the surface because I don’t want underrate the strategic thinking of the president. Now, I don’t want to elaborate on this because I do not want to pretend that I do him better,” he said.

Almonte cited Duterte’s cold treatment of then Vice President-elect Leni Robredo after the 2016 polls.

“Before the election or just after the election, he says so many things against his vice president. Am I correct, you recall? He was ignoring her right?” Almonte said.

“But look, later on, Vice President Leni went to Malacañang, he even kissed her hand. Am I correct? I saw it on the picture. Am I right? So what does this mean? You make the conclusion.”

Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
  • Follow Us:
Healines Skinning Right, pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1