‘We’re not supposed to make enemies’
MANILA – Former Senator Sergio Osmeña III on Monday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte for “mishandling” the international affairs and relations of the Philippines.
Duterte has both shocked and confused members of the diplomatic community over his harsh and flip-flopping statements on the Philippines’ relations with its long-time ally, the US.
Following a string of attacks against the US, Duterte announced during his state visit in China his “separation” from the US. However, upon arrival in the Philippines, he took back his words and said the country is not severing ties with the superpower.
Osmeña said Duterte is making enemies, a behavior he said should not be exhibited by a country’s leader.
“How do I describe his handling? Mishandling,” Osmeña said.
“We are not supposed to make enemies. We’re supposed to make friends. There is such a thing as diplomacy, iyung tact na hindi ka magsasalita ng masakit (wherein you don’t say hurtful things), leaving the doors open. But we’re not practicing that. We’re going the other direction.”
Osmeña said, Duterte must polish his diplomatic skills as his words and actions affect the country and its people.
“I think President Duterte means well. I was happy when he won, but he might want to learn the niceities of international diplomacy. Why make an enemy for nothing”” Osmena said.
Osmeña believes that a rift with the US will have an adverse effect on investments to be made in the country, especially in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry which directly employs over 1 million Filipinos.
“I don’t see them pulling out. I see them not expanding, at yung mga gustong pumunta, hold muna yan (and those who want to invest might hold back),” he said.
The former senator believes Duterte’s men must help the president in terms of diplomacy.
“Hindi pwedeng atras abante, atras abante (he can’t always be flip-flopping). It has been happening the whole time,” he said. “They have to think these things thoroughly, para paglabas ng statement eksakto (so their statements are in sync.)”
Osmeña warned of a possible ouster of Duterte from office if he “makes enemies.”
“In the bigger sense, the more enemies you make, the more chances of being ousted. All of your (enemies) will get together one of these days,” he said.
He believes that while an alliance with China will bring economic benefits to the Philippines, this should not come at the expense of relations with other countries.
WEAKENED PH POSITION
Osmeña also believes Duterte weakend the country’s position on the South China Sea dispute when he did not make a stronger assertion of the Philippines’ claim by saying he would be willing to hold dialogue with China.
“Tingin ngayon sa atin ng buong mundo, ang hina ng tuhod ng mga Pilipino. Isang pitik lang lumuluhod na” he said.
(The whole world now sees as a weak nation. With just a flick, we go down on our knees.)
“Kapag nag-negotiate ka sa Scarborough Shoal, that weakens our position. Why negotiate for our fishermen in our own backyard? That is ours to explore, the 200-km exclusive economic zone, ano pa question dun.”
(When you negotiate for access to Scarborough Shoal, that weakens our position. Why negotiate for our fishermen in our own backyard? That is ours to explore, the 200-km exclusive economic zone. There is no question about that.)