Last night, I almost fell from my chair when I heard President Rodrigo Duterte (PDU30) announcing he is cutting ties with the US, both economically and militarily. I thought, is he serious? And, are we ready?
My Facebook timeline was (and still) flooding with mixed reactions as a consequence to PDU30’s anti-US rhetoric —
A corporate executive friend can’t seem to hold her peace anymore, she said:
Can’t be silent for long. If you are not nervous yet from his latest pronouncements, then be very. PDuts is taking us with him to his sinkhole.
And for you hypocrites out there, just stop using US brands in solidarity with your lord. Pak, ganern!
This corporate executive friend, on the other hand, seems to be in deep reflection, as he weighs on the choice made by 16M Filipinos last presidential elections
“We can be so afraid of accepting we made a wrong choice that we hang on to every bit of thread of hope that we can still deny it.”
And this friend, someone holding a senior management position, is wondering why the voice of the opposition seems to be lacking
With everything that’s happening back home I wonder why is the opposition so quiet?
The effect of PDU30’s pronouncement is not only affecting Pinoys. Americans in the country are also jittery. This investor made his thoughts known via Reddit:
I have lived in The Philippines for nearly 2 years and own (as much as legally allowed) and operate a medium-sized BPO company with around 40’ish employees. Doing business in the Philippines is a no-brainer for me. From my experience here, it’s been very easy to find intelligent, loyal and hard-working employees. Native English speaking ability is also a huge bonus as are some of the tax incentives the government offers for foreign investors. The thing that I love most about being here and having a company are the people. Living here, building my business and making friends has been the most rewarding and fulfilling experience of my life…..
Well, after today, I’m not laughing anymore. Shit just got real, and for the first time since starting my company here, I’m nervous about the long-term viability of doing business in the Philippines….
His sentiments could well represent the anxiety of businesses with American exposure.
Local businessmen and service providers, whose clients will be a direct hit, have all the reasons to be worried. One of those is my friend, a fellow consultant and corporate trainer.
My Facebook timeline, however, is not at all gloomy. A fellow corporate trainer and consultant chose to look at the pronouncement as positive development.
For the longest time, we willingly accept the lesser party in a partnership, to our disadvantage. Not that we should brag with just plain air in our head, but too much dependency has led to mediocrity. We failed to move past our image of little brown brothers. But because of the pivot of what PDU30 has been doing, “all of the sudden, Filipino matters, says Alex Lo of South Morning China Post
This pronouncement could serve as a positive step, hopefully, PDU30 knows what he’s doing.
Is PDU30 Serious?
We’ll know on the next few days, as cabinet men scramble to explain the President, or attempt to spin the story. But some people, believed the pronouncement of PDU30.
But Are We Willing and Ready to Cut Ties with the US?
Honestly, if we’ll based on public opinion surveys, it seems we’re not.
In a recent survey by SWS, respondents gave the highest trust rating for the U.S., seven in 10 or 76 percent of the respondents said they have “much trust” in the U.S. Only 11 percent expressed “little trust” in the U.S., resulting in a “very good” net trust rating of +66.
source: CNN Philippines
Likewise, in 2013, a survey facilitated by Global Attitudes Project on the “attitude towards the US”, the Philippines had the most “favorable” view of the US, at 85% percent. Americans themselves did not figure in the top 3 countries, lagging behind the Philippines, Israel and Ghana.
Here are some of the reasons, (mine and sourced from others), why (non academic) the US succeeded in keeping a hold on us.
- Filipinos are generally hospitable and not assertive. We get easily star struck, specially to westerners. Thus, we assume the position of the lesser party.
- The atrocities of the Americans during the occupation is not widely taught in schools
- After the American-Spain war, the Americans spent money and effort undoing the influence of Spain (to replace w/ theirs)
- After WW2, the Americans successfully portrayed themselves as the good guys.
- The umbilical cord of our educational, political, military, and government system is tied to the US.
- We are heavily exposed to the influence of American media and Hollywood.
- American products flood our market, and we prefer it in most cases.
- American investments generate employment, specially in BPOs
- Groups (or individuals) benefitting from American aid.
Cutting ties with the US seems to be a bold, populist and nationalistic move, but it is unlikely to materialize anytime soon.
It’s easier said than done, given the complexity of American influence in our mindset, culture and economy.
Not to mention the effect of the likely pull-out of investments, relocation of BPOs to other countries, to our economy and employment rate.
However, this can be a positive step in building an independent Filipino first foreign policy, in the long term. Furthermore, this can lead to the redefining of the terms of partnership between PH and US anchored on mutual respect.
Given the effect on the pronouncement of PDU30, how do you think the nation should proceed?
This post is supported by a writing grant from the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ)