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Cayetano breaks down Duterte’s diplomatic strategy: OK to slam US, EU everyday but not China, SE Asian countries


Ever wonder why President Rodrigo Duterte treats the United States and European Union as punching bags while he treats China and the country’s Southeast Asian neighbors with kid gloves?

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano has an explanation but we’re not sure if it makes any sense.

Cayetano claimed that Duterte could afford to publicly criticize and insult the US and EU because they were located too far away to have any impact on the country’s economy, specifically overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

In contrast, Cayetano claimed China and Southeast Asian countries were too close to home that Duterte has to pussyfoot around the country’s conflicts with these countries.

“Kung ‘sing layo ng EU ‘yan o Amerika kahit magaway tayo araw-araw verbally, walang epekto sa buhay ng tao. Pero ‘pag neighbor mo, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, China, ‘pag kaaway mo ‘yan, sobrang apektado kabuhayan ng tao,” said Cayetano in an interview with CNN Philippines. (Like China, Malaysia, Brunei, and Vietnam are also claimants to some territory inside the Philippine sea boundaries).

For the record, here is a breakdown of the Top 10 countries with OFWs:

1) United States – 3.4 million

2) Saudi Arabia – 1.2 million

3) Malaysia – 900,000

4) United Arab Emirates – 700,000

5) Canada – 436,190

6) Japan – 350,972

7) Australia – 336,140

8) Qatar – 263,980

9) Italy – 259,508

10) United Kingdom – 200,987

There are 140,000 OFWS in Hong Kong and 12,000 in mainland China.

Cayetano was asked why Duterte has been careful not to raise any protest against China for its unhampered intrusion into the countrys territory in the West Philippine Sea, specifically the harassment of Filipino fishermen doing their trade in the coomon fishing ground inside Scarborough Shoal.

“Ang gusto lang naman ni Pangulo, ilagay natin diyan, hindi itabi. Dito natin ilagay, saan natin paguusapan ‘yan? But don’t let it affect ang usapan natin sa tourism, usapan natin sa agriculture, usapan natin sa peace sa region. Why? We’re neighbors,” said Cayetano.

Cayetano pushed his point of not publicly arguing with other countries over territorial disputes.

“May I ask anyone here who wants us to be more aggressive versus China verbally. Do you think we should have a good relationship with Japan and with Malaysia? Kasi after the war, mga grandparents natin, sasampalin ka; during that time nananampal pa ang tao o nagpapalo ng kamay; papagalitan ka talaga ng lolo’t lola mo if you say you wanna be friends with [the] Japanese,” said Cayetano.

“But now we’re more than brothers sa Japanese, they’re funding our infrastructure projects; ganoon din sa Malaysia. Just one generation ago, of course we were kids at that time, there was even a planned invasion of the Philippines to Sabah, ‘yung isang writer nagsasabi nito and allegedly some Malaysians were funding the rebellion in the south. But now, despite our disputes sa Sabah, may OFWs tayo doon, we have a lot of engagements, a lot of trade, a lot of tourism, we’re brothers in ASEAN. So how come the Filipinos before were able to put on one side ‘yung dispute with Japan and with Malaysia but then na-harness ‘yung relationship,” he added.