Burning bridges?

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez - The Freeman

Reports have it that the Americans have pulled out some of its remaining equipment left over in Zamboanga from a mission that ended last April of 2015. These include transport vehicles. The Americans probably just left them in case they are needed, since the country and the US have several agreements regarding military exercises and the like.

But last Tuesday, a C-17 Globemaster cargo plane landed in Zamboanga, and loaded the equipment. There was no comment from the Western Mindanao Command, nor a statement from the US Embassy as to the pullout of the vehicles. Right there, you can opine for yourself as to why.

President Duterte has made known his disdain, even hate for the Americans in the past 100 days he has been in office. He said he wanted the Americans out of Mindanao, then the whole country. He said that this year's war games would be the last. He said that he would review the EDCA and probably other existing agreements with regards to American military presence in the country. He officially informed the US that the country will not participate in joint patrols of the South China Sea. He has also repeatedly cursed, hurled invectives at the US and the EU, including President Obama, and dared them to stop whatever aid they were giving the country, adding that if America was not with us, they are against us. According to the Duterte administration, America has failed the country, and that the country has not really benefitted from the long-standing friendship with the US. All this, while cozying up to China, and even Russia.

Duterte will visit China this October. The way I see it, he has effectively greased up the Chinese to be in their good graces, which he has made publicly clear. Time to seek out new friends, while all but dumping old ones. When one curses at a friend, and mind you, not in the seemingly harmless way a Filipino does in some conversations that strain the relationship. Despite all the statements from the US, the UN and the EU that the relationship is still strong, being constantly pushed out the door will eventually have an effect.

Duterte will pitch the country to the Chinese, and will also ask for developmental aid, such as that railway he has always wanted. He also hopes to get China to allow Filipino fishermen to return to Panatag Shoal, which is occupied by several Chinese vessels that prevent anyone else from fishing.

The fact that Duterte has to even ask the Chinese it only highlights that the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling in favor of the country has no power at all. They do not want the Chinese to "lose face" as one government official puts it when the PCA arbitration was mentioned.

Obviously, everything is being done to please the Chinese.

How all this plays out for the country remains to be seen. I have mentioned that we are now sailing in uncharted waters. I will admit that we have been used to almost everything American all these years, and that change may at first be difficult. As it is, the Duterte administration may be burning an important bridge, in the hope of building a new, albeit untested one.

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