Are we willing and ready to cut ties with the US?

Image credit: leparisien.fr

 
 
Update: The administration has since clarified what the pronouncement meant

 

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….

source: reddit

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.

source: Rappler

Here are some of the reasons, (mine and sourced from others), why (non academic) the US succeeded in keeping a hold on us.

  1. Filipinos are generally hospitable and not assertive. We get easily star struck, specially to westerners. Thus, we assume the position of the lesser party.
  2. The atrocities of the Americans during the occupation is not widely taught in schools
  3. After the American-Spain war, the Americans spent money and effort undoing the influence of Spain (to replace w/ theirs)
  4. After WW2, the Americans successfully portrayed themselves as the good guys.
  5. The umbilical cord of our educational, political, military, and government system is tied to the US.
  6. We are heavily exposed to the influence of American media and Hollywood.
  7. American products flood our market, and we prefer it in most cases.
  8. American investments generate employment, specially in BPOs
  9. 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) 

 

 

Sonnie is a Talent and Organization Development and Brand Communications Strategist who won the best advocacy blogger in 2010 and best corporate and brand blogger in 2015.

He is a Senior Consultant for Presidential Communications and Operations Office working with the Committee on Media Affairs and Strategic Communications for ASEAN 2017. He also serves in similar capacity with other corporate clients.

His views remain his, and do not represent his clients, associates and family

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  • Kudo Sinichi

    Based on the reactions of politicians, hindi pa tayo handa.

    Dahil sa kanyang announcement, ako ay nangangamba na gawin ng US sa pamamagitan ng dilaw ang ginawa nila kay ERAP. Sila din ang nag attempt na patalsikin si GMA, nag sampol kay Corona, gumiba kay Binay, at finacier ni Trillanes

  • KT Peralta-Nielsen

    I personally think that we should not cut ties with any country especially with a country that has been our ally for so many years. Our leaders can probably revisit the terms of the alliance and from there make a sound judgment on how we can move forward. As the President has clarified his statement and correct me if I am wrong but I have read that the military exercises will still push through then I guess we’re basically on status quo right now. I guess we all just need to keep watch and see what will happen in the future.

  • Ma. Clarice Lao

    After Trump won in the recent US elections, I believe PDuterte’s stand against US has change.

    On a personal note, we may all feel that we are not yet ready but this feeling does not apply only about cutting ties from the US but rather for everything – getting married, changing careers or even relocating. I believe that if we won’t do this now, then when would be the right time? I believe this is about taking the leap and if it’s a wrong decision, just be brave enough to stand up again. As Filipinos, I know we can do this.

    I am just really hopeful for our country. Praying and trusting God will not allow bad things to really happen to us. After all, change is coming. 🙂

  • Carola K

    I don’t know what would be best for the Philippines. I’ve followed the elections in the USA.(I live in Europe). And I don’t know what will happen next. I don’t know how the USA will change and proceed. It’s a matter of time before we know more. We’ll have to see what will change because of this elections and what the influence will be on the rest of the world.

  • Eleanor Llabore

    US has been with us since the liberation and welcomed Filipinos in their own soil. I just don’t believe too when Pres. Duterte made a pronouncement that Philippines will be cutting ties with US…well in terms of military and economics. But he said , the social ties remains, am I right? That was Obama’s time. And now that Trump won, he changed his mind…ano na baga talaga???!!!! eleanorllabore.com

  • I honestly got tired of following politics. Some are just small issues being catapulted by media and sometimes, it’s really annoying. With cutting ties with the US, I don’t think it’s a good idea. People working there will have a hard time as well as looking for investors. That could just greatly affect our country in various ways.

  • Klaudias Corner

    Oh , I am not familiar at all with the relationship between the Phillipines and the US. I don’t even know what political system or form of government the Phillipines are, to be honest. But as soon as I read “…cutting the tie with the US” the image of that horrible man aka future president of the US flashed up in my head again. I am really looking forward to seeing how ANY president or head of state will be able to communicate with that lout. I can see a lot of ties getting cut in the future, tho. God will be very busy when it comes to blessing America, I believe. What a night mare !

  • Milton Coyne

    I actually don’t know what’s on his mind especially now that US just proclaimed a new president. I do support Duterte in most of his agendas but sometimes his careless way of speaking and his seemingly uncontrolled temper put him in so much trouble. I just hope God will give him enough wisdom in all his decisions

  • Martine Cosio De Luna

    I actually do hope that things work out for us in the Philippines. I can’t imagine what would happen to our country if we “cut ties”, especially since so many Filipinos are in the U.S. and are part of the culture. It’s scary to think what the implications might be of Duterte’s careless remarks, and I really believe he should keep himself in check.

  • It doesn’t really make sense to cut ties with anyone at all unless these countries are at war with us. US brings good business to PH and it would also be good to build more ties with other countries. We just have to pray that God will continue to guide our leaders and not bring us to war with other nations. Someone from the President’s cabinet should seriously advice him to stick to the plan and script.