Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr.: Pope, Obama ‘not bothered’ by Duterte cursing; ‘We can’t kick out China’

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Not sure of his fate after one year, but says he serves at the pleasure of the President. ’ The FilAm Photo

Not sure of his fate after one year, but says he serves at the pleasure of the President. ’ The FilAm Photo

By Cristina DC Pastor

The government of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte wants to keep major powers as friends and is looking to embrace both superpower rivals the U.S. and China as allies.

Foreign Secretary Perfect Yasay Jr. made this declaration in a packed town hall meeting on September 21 where he discussed the government’s “independent foreign policy” where the Philippines is “not subservient” to any foreign power.

“That (independent foreign policy) does not mean that if we forge a closer friendship with China we will be weakening our friendship with the U.S. No!” he said.

Applying this policy as the Philippines moves forward following the recent arbitral tribunal decision in The Hague, Yasay said the Duterte Government will not resort to a multilateral dialogue, a position supported by some claimant countries that believe a bilateral dialogue will open Manila to bullying from China.

The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippine claim over parts of the South China Sea. China said it does not accept the decision.

“No country can dictate on us how to do this,” he said. “Insofar as our exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea is concerned, there are only two claimants. It is the Philippines and China. That’s precisely why we don’t want to engage any other nation in so-called multilateral talks.” This statement drew cheers and applause from the hall of close to 200 people.

Yasay said that “including third parties will just confuse and make more complicated” any peaceful settlement of the decades-long territorial dispute.

Yasay said China does not want to go to war, and the Philippines cannot afford to get into one.

He said the Philippines will not be influenced by “irrationality and emotions.” He said Filipinos should put an end to the use of slogans like “Sa atin iyan, ipaglaban natin yan, alis kayo diyan” in asking for China to leave the West Philippine Sea.

“Dissociate from your minds that just because we won the arbitral case we can drive out anyone who is there,” he said. “That is not how it works.” In a recent rally in New York, some of the slogans called for China to “back off” and “get out of Philippine waters.”

Unique person…prone to expletives
Yasay also said the international community will have to live with the reality that Duterte is a “unique person” prone to mouthing expletives.

President Barack Obama has called him a “colorful” president after being called “son of a whore” in the Tagalog language. He then canceled an important meeting with Duterte during an ASEAN meeting in Laos.

“I do not know in what context one would say he is a colorful personality, certainly it’s not the color of his skin,” said Yasay introducing levity into his response. “The only reason I guess why that is being said is because he oftentimes uses expletives.”

The president’s cursing, Yasay said, is “always uttered in anger, frustration and disappointment…and not directed at any personality.” Many of the people who are at the receiving end are not even bothered by those expletives, he said further.

“Not the Pope, not Barack Obama.”

He said Filipinos love him “for who he is. He spoke straight, he meant what he said. Our people in general do not listen to words he said but listen to his message of hope and change.”

The town hall at the Philippine Center.  New carpets, strict security. Photo by Lambert Parong/Balitang New York

The town hall at the Philippine Center. New carpets, strict security. With Yasay is Consul General Mario de Leon Jr. Photo by Lambert Parong/Balitang New York

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