AS what subalterns of President Rodrigo Duterte are wont to do, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay tried straightening out the mess his boss created with regards to his “I will cross the Rubicon” statement with regards to the Philippines relation with the United States. No ties will be cut off, he said, but rather an independent foreign relations would be put in place. Meaning that while we still dance with the US, China and Russia would be the preferred partners.
Of course, severing relations with any state, the US especially, won’t be easy because there would be a backlash. In the case of the US, its presence in the country is so pervasive and its hold on our socio-economic and political life so strong that cutting our ties with it would be a struggle.
Just ask the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which has been battling “US imperialism for decades now. The party did not consider waging an armed struggle, a revolution, out of whim. It knows that to effect genuine societal change, which includes destroying US imperialism’s stranglehold on our country, taking up arms is necessary. Can Duterte do it by merely talking with China and Russia or signing an edict? I doubt it.
I take it that the President read some CPP literature or if he didn’t talked at length about ideology with CPP leaders, after all, he has long been friendly with CPP founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison. I think this is why at one time during the campaign period, he claimed to be a socialist. Being a socialist means battling capitalists, which rules the western world, and not merely being close to China and Russia, all former communist states.
But judging from his record as long-time Davao City mayor and his many pronouncements, the President is actually more of a traditional politician than a socialist. Obviously, his knowledge of Marxist theory is not that deep. But he seems intent on following a progressive path as far as our relation with other countries is concerned. In this sense, I think he needs an advice from people with deep knowledge of the issue.
On socialism and US imperialism, why won’t he seek the advice of, say, Sison? I don’t know how sharp Sison’s mind still is in his old age but I say that among revolutionaries Sison has the deepest knowledge of the application of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to Philippine setting. He has also been battling US imperialism for decades now. He can help the President lay down a progressive, not necessarily socialist, foreign policy free from the dictates of any major world power like the US.
While having people like Sison as adviser would be radical, soliciting the help of progressives in crafting state policy is not unprecedented. Former president Benigno Aquino III had as adviser the moderate Ronald Llamas of Akbayan. I think Llamas had an influence in the conceptualizing and laying down of the strict implementing guideline for Aquino’s centerpiece 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program). The program has been so well conceived and implemented that the Duterte administration continued it without tweaking the program much.
My point is that if we want radical change in our foreign policy, then we should solicit the help of the radicals themselves. If we want to “duel” with the US, then we should get advice from people who have been battling US imperialism for decades. And while my suggestion seems farfetched under past administrations, it is not under Duterte. After all, two members of his Cabinet got appointed to their posts upon the recommendation of Sison’s group.
(firstname.lastname@example.org/ twitter: @khanwens)