Just 100 days into his presidency, President Rodrigo Duterte was able to catch the attention of five different international entities–the United States, the United Nations, the European Union, Israel, and Germany–and not in a good light at that.
A diplomat who wished for his identity to remain anonymous said that usually, the Philippine presidents utilizes their first 100 days in office to maintain and develop good relations with other countries.
In an article posted by Rappler’s Newsbreak, Victor Andres Manhit, a foreign affairs analyst, also voiced out that these recent events—international bodies commenting over Duterte’s presidency—doesn’t seem to be normal. It is not normal for countries to issue statements unless it concerns global or regional security, however, Duterte already caught five international entities’ attention in his first 100 days as president. The United States, European Union, and the United Nations voiced out their criticisms with regard to the rampant killings happening in the country in connection to drugs while Israel and Germany both denounced Duterte’s statement saying that he would be pleased to kill 3 million addicts just like how Adolf Hitler massacred 3 million Jews.
The president seems to be unfazed despite the left and right comments and criticisms from these countries and organizations, saying that how he handles domestic affairs is not their concern. He even recently called out the US and EU for criticizing his actions while they too have their own human rights issues in their countries.
Being known for his contradicting statements and harsh comments towards people and even President Barack Obama himself, Duterte doesn’t see any problem because he says that his mouth “cannot bring down a country.” Another statement that recently caught the attention of the people was that of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, when he said that Duterte did not run as a diplomat but as a president.
This, however, is an invalid argument because according to a 2005 ruling by the Supreme Court, one of the duties of the president is to serve as the country’s chief diplomat.
“As the chief architect of foreign policy, the President acts as the country’s mouthpiece with respect to international affairs. Hence, the President is vested with the authority to deal with foreign states and governments, extend or withhold recognition, maintain diplomatic relations, enter into treaties, and otherwise transact the business of foreign relations,” the SC said.
There is a dichotomy in a president’s role. He is not just the head of the government, but he is also the head of the state. As the head of the government, it is the task of the president to run the government and handle domestic issues. However, as the head of the state, it is his prime duty to properly represent the country internationally. This includes maintaining good relationship with other countries, not just China and Russia.
One of the biggest concerns from this recent behavior by the president is its impact to the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
Recently, Duterte said that he was putting an end to the PH-US alliance and opting to develop a stronger relationship with China and Russia instead. Former Philippine representative to the UN Lauri Baja commented on this saying that “Any good diplomat won’t put all their eggs in one basket. So you have to also be careful with the kind of statements that you’re making.”
She further added that “As President, you look after the interests of your country. And there is a language to diplomacy.”
Manhit also said that it entails international respect to the leader of the country for its people and the nation in general to be respected as well. He labeled Filipinos as “global citizens” because of the huge number of OFWs we have. He further adds that the focus shouldn’t be solely on domestic issues. The international image of the country has a huge effect on the day to day lives of the OFWs. It can also affect investments and job opportunities to the citizens.
Lastly, Manhit said that the way to greater foreign investment is through gaining respect globally and this can only happen if the President earns this respect for the country. He is the country’s symbol to the world after all.