No choice

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez - The Freeman

First, there was news of the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) no longer conducting training programs with the PNP. Citing the possible involvement of police in extrajudicial killings, the SFPD is terminating the sixteen-year old program which was initiated by a Filipino police officer in the US. San Francisco is known for having a very large Filipino community, so it isn't surprising for the SFPD to have Filipino officers. This was met with a nonchalant reaction by the PNP, not surprising nowadays.

Then there was news that the US State Department would no longer push through with the sale of around twenty-six thousand M4 assault rifles to the PNP, after US Senator Ben Cardin said he would block the sale because of the country's seemingly deteriorating human rights record, again citing the extrajudicial killings, some allegedly involving local police. This was met with more defiance than disappointment, saying the country can buy guns anywhere in the world. President Duterte even broke his vow of no longer swearing, with expletive-laden tirade against the US for the cancellation of the arms sale. Even PNP Chief Gen. Dela Rosa, as expected, was sarcastic, saying they can resort to fists to fight drug lords.

There is no argument that there are many countries that sell firearms other than the US. Some may even be of better quality, while some may even be cheaper. It is rumored that as soon as President Duterte took office, several arms manufacturers have offered their products to him, knowing him to be an avid gun enthusiast. But I believe the message here is that with all of Duterte's almost daily rants and tirades against the US, the US may be starting to distance itself from the country. These may be the first of many relationships on the chopping block. But if we are going to judge it by all the anti-American sentiments from Duterte and even some members of his Cabinet, who cares? This is what Duterte wanted after all since China and Russia are there, right?

A spokesperson from the US State Department has reiterated the close relationship of the US with the Philippines and that said relationship "does not rest on the shoulders of one individual," obviously referring to Duterte. Former president Ramos would agree. In his latest column before tendering his resignation as special envoy to China, he blasted Duterte's stand on the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, saying he placed the whole population of the country at risk. Ramos has been critical of Duterte's statements and actions.

But one cannot ignore the fact that Duterte enjoys a high approval rating at the moment, and that translates into a tacit approval by the country on everything he says and does. So while those ratings remain high, the US will just have to suck it up or cut its losses, so to speak. "The Philippine-American relationship has never been this bad," so says one American professor. That may be true because President Duterte is making it so. By continuing his rage against the US and all those critical of his war on illegal drugs and the alleged human rights violations associated with it, the country may not have a choice about who it can or wants to remain friends with any longer. 



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