Freeman Cebu Business

Will we be better off without America?

TRADE FORUM - Chris Malazarte - The Freeman

The seemingly anti-American pronouncements made recently by our President are a bit troubling for most of us. First and foremost, we need to understand that Duterte has a way with playing gambit to deliver good results.

Undoubtedly, he is very good with it. In the last elections, and for many times, he had played unpredictably well against the mammoth and well-oiled machinery of the incumbent. And darn well, too, against the most popular icons in Philippine politics.

And that’s because he does not want to be read. He’d rather play ambiguous to keep his cynics busy with figuring out his next move. I am tempted to surmise that President Duterte must have read Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power in which one of its laws says “Cultivate an air of unpredictability” for predictability offers a sense of control to your detractors or betrayers.

“Turn the tables: Be deliberately unpredictable. Behavior that seems to have no consistency or purpose will keep them off-balance and they will wear themselves out trying to explain your moves.”

We have seen many of his antics not only in the elections but also in the way he presents our country's foreign policy, which at the surface, looks anti-American. But if you come to think of it, it is impossible to break our fellowship with the United States nor for the US to just simply drop us like a hot potato which in reality cannot happen.

Our commitment is not just to the United States alone. We are committed to the world in the form of our multilateral agreements in the regional and in the global community of nations take for example the Asean, the World Trade Organization, and in bilateral commitments we made with other countries. These agreements cannot just be easily severed by mere statements of anti-Americanism. I do not want to believe it was anti-American – it was at the very least an assertion of parity among nations in which only Duterte has boldly remarked. 

I would like to believe that if Duterte really meant what he said, it was only as good as the day he spoke of them. If there was really something that prompted him to speak against Washington, then that would be the “extra judicial killings” in which his statements must be taken in that context than understood as a total severance of ties. But that’s just me. Your or our opinion, whether or not, we agree with him, may not matter at all at the end game. As I have said, the “Duterte gambit” is firmly encrypted that we may have understood only a small part of the whole. But one thing is for sure, he designs those moves to eventually redound to the country’s credit.                    

But if Duterte really meant what he meant, I don’t think it will be the end of the world for the Filipinos. As I have said, our international commitments cannot be severed by just mere political statements alone. I would liken the present situation as a déjà vu of the historic vote against the American military bases. It was unpopular but it was at the same time necessary. It concluded our participation to the Cold War and a new beginning as a sovereign nation. We did survive after the end of the US bases and we survived well thereafter.    

Did the call centers go away or did they even plan to go away after he made those pronouncements? Even if we assume that Duterte, whose background is unequivocally progressive or left-of-center in the political spectrum, no president would be willing to just give up the jobs of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos in the call centers for the sake of what his own political beliefs tell. 

But then again, the president is just a little over a hundred days in office. It’s too early to say if our new alliances with Russia and China portend hard times ahead which is unlikely or preposterous at best. China and Russia are also allies of the United States economically and politically and for some reason their foreign policies do not jibe most often but hey, it’s business as usual.


Business Connect is back on DYRC-Cebu (648 khz) and available via live streaming at ustream.com. We welcome your questions as well as your offer advice to our listeners who are starting out in business or on enterprise issues. Business Connect also discusses property trends and tips for those who would like to pursue real estate as a career or for investment.

With me in Business Connect is radio veteran Ramil Paican and Juve Villar as well as real estate advisors, Ronald Caballes and Nelson Lim. Business Connect is on air every Saturday, 10a.m.-12p.m.


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