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Duterte in Russia: ‘What do we want?’

October 04, 2019 - Friday 6:10 PM by MDM

Article Banner Image WELCOME. President Rodrigo Duterte is met by Russian President Vladimir Putin upon his arrival at the Polyana 1389 Hotel in Sochi for their bilateral meeting on October 3, 2019. RICHARD MADELO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

For President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines only wants what all nations desire: fairness, equality, and mutual respect.

In his speech at the plenary session of the Forum of the Valdai International Discussion Club held at the Polyana 1389 Hotel Valdai Hall in Sochi, Russia, Duterte criticized the United States and other Western countries for creating “rules and norms for almost everyone” and “acting like they know the answers to our problems and impervious to our socio-economic and political conditions.”

He said these “rules” include the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Paris Agreement on Climate, “and even the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

Duterte said other countries “weaponize human rights” but are “oblivious to its damaging consequences to the very people they seek to protect.”

“Just look at the chaos and instability that ensued in Libya and Iraq following military interventions,” he said.

FACE TO FACE. President Rodrigo Duterte and the members of his delegation hold a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Polyana 1389 Hotel in Sochi on October 3, 2019. KARL NORMAN ALONZO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Duterte said the US and other Western countries “have hurled unfair criticisms against my government about perceived excesses in our fight against drugs.”

“They see what they want to see to justify their preconceived notions, and not trying to understand that what truly is happening is there in my country,” he said.

“Is this how friends treat each other?” he asked rhetorically.

Duterte said the Philippines has seen Western countries backtracking from defense contracts “over baseless apprehensions that we would use arms to violate human rights.”

“Yet, you see the same countries supplying high-end weaponry to parties whose actual human rights record leaves so much to be desired,” he said.

Protecting the Republic

Duterte said his administration’s actions, which are seen as violative of human rights by other countries, are only done “to protect our republic (from) those who wish to tear it apart.”

“We only seek to curb criminality that corrodes the very structure of government. We only seek to build a credible defense against those who might be tempted to violate our territorial integrity,” he said.

“Is this not something that all nations are entitled to? Is this not what democratically elected governments are mandated to do?” he added.

But Duterte said Western countries, by their actions, “weakan my government’s ability to protect law-abiding citizens from the outlaws.”

“They limit our capacity to stop the vicious cycle of internal conflict and underdevelopment. And they clip our wings making it more difficult for us to effect meaningful change for our people,” he said.

SUCCESSFUL MEETING. President Duterte boards the presidential car with Senator Christopher Lawrence Go following his successful bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

No special treatment

Duterte emphasized that he is not against the US or the West.

“The US is a close friend of the Philippines – in fact, our only treaty ally. We have deep ties with the American people, forged by shared history and nourished by common values. America certainly can offer so much more to the world,” he said.

Neither is he against liberalism, he said.

“In politics as in the economy, liberalism… creates the best pathways to a just and fair society. For a thriving democracy like the Philippines, there is simply no other better alternative to a philosophy that puts premium on the freedom and dignity of the individual,” he said.

What he is against, Duterte said, is “not the current global order but rather the actions of certain actors that violate the very principles that underpin this order.”

“The Philippines does not ask for special treatment nor favors from its partners. It does not seek exemption from the norms and principles that have kept the peace in our world for decades,” he said.

“What we seek -- as I assume what the Russian people and all nations also desire -- is fairness, equality, and mutual respect. We want a strengthened rules-based order where countries, big or small, are treated the same. We want unimpeded freedom -- guaranteed by our constitution -- to exercise our right to govern ourselves as a people and as we saw it fit. And we want friends and partners to respect our independence to make sovereign decisions just as we respect theirs,” he said. MDM