WHAT do two of Cebu’s leaders make of President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest public rejection of the United States?
Despite his personal reservations about the US, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said he was “disturbed” that President Rodrigo Duterte seemed bent on cutting military and economic ties with the country.
Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III, in a separate interview, said he saw nothing wrong with pursuing better relations with China and Russia, but that the country shouldn’t shut out the United States either.
“Let us not abandon old allies; the US, for instance. Mas maayo man gud nga daghan tang mga higala (It’s better for us to keep many friends),” Davide said.
In a speech at the Philippine-China Trade and Investment Forum in Beijing last Thursday, Duterte said, “I announced my separation from the United States.”
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, who attended the forum, later told reporters that while the country wants “stronger integration” with its Asian neighbors, relations with “the West” will be maintained.
The Philippines and the United States have been treaty allies for nearly seven decades.
Davide said he saw no potential complications from the President’s plan to cultivate stronger relations with China and Russia.
“Of course we welcome what the President is doing, in forging alliances with Russia, China. Cebu, for instance, has sisterhood ties with St. Petersburg,” he said.
Cebu Province also has sisterhood ties with the provinces of Hainan, Sichuan, Guangdong and Autonomous Region of Guangxi Zhuang in China.
“The president has already said magkinahanglan pud ta og friends, new allies with whom salig gyud ta (We need new friends, new allies we can trust),” Davide said.
“Wa man ko mabalaka, no, pero makapamalandong gyud ka, sometimes very disturbing kining mga pronouncement sa Presidente (I am not worried, but sometimes one can’t help but think that the President’s pronouncements can sometimes be very disturbing),” he said.
Davide, however, said he remains confident that the US Government will maintain its ties with the Philippines.
He said a member of a Republican senator’s staff visited him last Thursday regarding a program of the US Agency for International Development to help some local schools.
“I don’t think mo-kuan ang America, committed ang America nato (I don’t think American will sever its ties to us. They are committed to us),” the governor said.
Osmeña, in a news conference yesterday, said that the President’s latest pronouncement bothered him.
More than the possible loss of American investors, especially in the information technology sector, the mayor said he fears for the millions of Filipinos living and working in the US who might be discriminated against.
He raised concerns on Filipinos being the subject of humiliation and insults overseas.
“I’m disturbed. On this issue of nationalism that Duterte is displaying, this is not unique in our history,” the mayor said.
Osmeña recalled how a similar assertion of nationalism during the American Occupation had major impacts on Philippine history.
During the 1930s, he pointed out, then Senators Sergio Osmeña Sr. and Manuel Roxas led the OsRox Mission to the US to lobby for a law promising Philippine independence. (Osmeña was his grandfather.)
The law, known as the Hare-Hawes Cutting Law, provided that the country be granted independence after 10 years, but reserved several military and naval bases for the US.
“But (then Senator Manuel) Quezon opposed and went to the US as well to ask for another bill and it was approved. It’s called the Tydings McDuffie Act. The difference was that this did not allot spaces for bases after the 10-year transitory period,” Osmeña said.
The more recent law was ratified by the Senate.
However, when the Second World War broke out in 1939, the Philippines, with no military bases of its own, was invaded by the Japanese.
Osmeña explained that even before the war broke, the Americans were already preparing their troops to leave the country as provided for by the law.
“The funny thing is, we allowed the US to have their bases after the war because of what happened. There are so many things in history that repeat themselves. If you don’t learn history, you’re bound to commit the same mistakes,” Osmeña said.