“What does China have on President Duterte?”

Why does the President bow to China? [Photo source: CNN Philippines]

By JoeAm

That question comes up repeatedly in my social media pages. Many Filipinos can’t comprehend a foreign policy that has the Philippines giving up it’s brilliantly fought and hard won arbitration hearing against China because “Filipinos would be slaughtered in a war”.

They know, and figure the President himself knows, that such an argument is nonsense. There are many ways to object to theft of Filipino economic territory short of throwing bodies on the beaches. Writing letters of protest through diplomatic channels, for instance.

So China must have something on President Duterte, they figure. What could it be that would make him so weak and cowardly in the face of outrageous aggression from China?

Well, I don’t have all the facts, but I can put some definition to the speculations from the comfort of my armchair. We do have one fact, that a private Chinese plane was parked in Davao during the presidential election campaign. We know that Chinese interests are influencing Filipino policies in Marawi, Boracay, and for the Mindanao Railway, and we hear rumors about the fast-tracking of a flood of Chinese immigrants through Clark International Airport. We also know about the President’s frequent defense of China and his Department of Foreign Affairs’ hesitancy to issue any kind of push-back against China, even over the militarization of artificial islands built within Philippine economic territory.

This reluctance is not only an apparent betrayal of Philippine sovereignty and the President’s Constitutional mandate, it is a betrayal of other states that are trying to stop the steady erosion of international waters and rights, or occupation of their seas, by China. So it is serious business.

  • Perhaps China contributed in a major way to the Duterte presidential campaign, through cash or social media manipulations.
  • Perhaps huge monetary payments are being made or promised to top officials who are willing to betray Filipino well-being and sovereignty in exchange for welcoming China to the Philippines.
  • Perhaps China and Duterte are complicit in controlling drug trafficking within the Philippines in order to enrich themselves and legitimize killing people.
  • Perhaps China has private and personal information on the President and is blackmailing him.
  • Perhaps China will set the Duterte family up for life on Mindanao under federalism, or will assure him or his successor of a permanent presidency.

These are common speculations, and I suppose there are others.

What makes the barrel stink as rotten, however, are the President’s own words, like his recent statement that Chinese President Xi had assured President Duterte that he will not be ousted from the presidency. What a horrifying intrusion by China into sovereign Filipino affairs. And it was WELCOMED by President Duterte. He welcomed China inserting itself in the Philippine sovereign authority to manage its own affairs.


The President has repeatedly said he is working cooperatively with China because he does not want to see his dear Filipino citizens (the same ones he is slaughtering in the drug war) have to die fighting for their country.

Such a childish, trollish argument. The Philippines has more power than any other state in the Western Pacific because of its Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States. The Philippines, if attacked on land or sea, triggers US engagement.

Duterte apologists argue “Yes, but the US has not shown it will act, so the treaty does not mean anything”. Yet, we see training exercises and the EDCA base expansions being done, as well as intelligence sharing and other good faith demonstrations of support from the US. And we know for sure that CHINA HAS NO IDEA WHAT THE US WILL OR WILL NOT DO.

China would incur great risk by attacking a Filipino vessel. If there is major fighting, the US is obligated . . . by its own interests and the Mutual Defense Treaty . . .  to step in. Perhaps the US would LOVE to have justification to step into a localized conflict to push China back.

While everyone is guessing, they might as well guess that, too.

I heard from a source I consider authoritative that President Aquino, in concert with the US, had drawn a red line on Scarborough Shoals. China was advised not to build there. And didn’t.

The risk was too great.

Why does the Philippines, in consultation with the US, not draw a red line on the militarization of artificial islands in its UN-defined Philippine territory west of Palawan? Get the missiles out of Philippine seas THAT ARE NO LONGER CONTESTED by UN ruling. Get the bombers out!

Apply sanctions, stepwise, that make the Philippine off-limits to China and her lying, stealing, smuggling, brutal interests.

It makes no sense at all to turn the Philippines over to a nation of liars and thieves.

It makes no sense to turn the AFP and Filipinos into rags with which to polish China’s shoes.

The only reason I can figure that Filipinos are being made into a nation of cowards is that there is something we don’t know. Because Filipinos are NOT cowards.


63 Responses to ““What does China have on President Duterte?””
  1. Joe the Kano says:

    You mean Duterte is not really a nationalist? But he says such mean things about the US and its former president. And he has these wacky conspiracy theories. It’s all just a sham to deflect from his blatant and shameless China butt-polishing?

    In all seriousness, it would be fascinating to read a US intelligence analysis of the situation and its potential causes and contributing factors.

    I suspect you have nailed at least a few.

    • Hi, Joe, good to see you commenting here. I do wish I had a pipeline to the US intelligence community. I suspect they know a LOT, and gain some confidence from knowing that the US appears not to be doing anything at the moment. Other than conducting training, staying in touch with the AFP, and being constructive in providing disaster aid (Marawi). China, of course, gives very little to the Philippines in the way of sympathy donations.

    • Gilton Gonzales says:

      China has dossiers of China-Duterte drug deals. They’re using it to blackmail him.

  2. Francis says:

    Thank you.

    From an objective point-of-view—I find our foreign policy to be the worst part of the presidency. The strategic cost is enormous. People say that “Yellows” are bleeding heart idealists for their opposition to other policies of the current administration, but I think that even cold realists would find this foreign policy foolish.

    The fallacy of the ka-DDS is that the only choices that we have are—supplication or war. This is utterly stupid and idiotic; a fallacy that clearly demonstrates an elementary—scratch that, kindergarten—grasp of history, economic, politics, sociology, etc. In short, completely sans nuance; kabobohan, sa madaling salita. What frameworks? What assumptions? Where’s the context?

    Of course—you can’t make any of those things without ideas in one’s head.

    Pardon the condescension. Pardon the elitism. This is because—you don’t have to be a goddamned bleeding-heart liberal to realize how stupid this is. Heck—the cold and callous folks who dislike human rights activists are the likely the guys who’ll be most offended by this non-sense foreign policy, in any other nation.

    In any other nation.

    A good chunk of politics (like love and war) is about seizing moment; right time, right place. It is therefore important to analyze the moment; that is—the context we are operating in.

    We are living in a rapidly changing world. The United States is starting to perceive itself as a nation decline. China, the opposite. This is partially the result of a narrowing gap between the two—and between the West and the Rest; China and the Rest are becoming richer and richer—with China leading the pack, now the “Number Two” economy by GDP.

    We should also take into account the relative assertiveness of Russia under Putin, the persistence (and tendecies towards greater union) in the EU, as well a booming Africa and India.

    The US could once dictate the world by virtue of being rich while everyone other nation was poor—and the only other rich guys (Europe and Japan) decided to leave all the “hard power” issues to the US. That is no longer the case. The “Rest” is a lot richer—and some of the “Rest” (i.e. China) is catching up militarily with the US.

    The summary is that I think we are transitioning from a unipolar world to a multipolar world; from a world where there is only one big dog (US) to a world where there are potentially many big dogs (EU, US, China, India, Russia, etc.). A symptom of this is traditional US dominance being challenged in places like Eastern Europe (Crimea and Russia) and Southeast Asia (West PH Sea and China).

    Yet, the “global” system is not exactly the same as the “regional” system; the two may have different characteristics. While I think that on a “global” level, we may describe a “multipolar” order arising—on a “regional” level, I cannot help but see a regional “unipolar” order with China as the region’s “hegemon” as a very likely future.

    The ka-DDS at this stage will say—hell yeah! We’re RIGHT! Duterte is only being PRAGMATIC!

    Well, that is not true. Even in our (fading) “global” unipolar order—there is an enormous variation between near-equals and junior partners like Europe and Japan, and less vocal allies. The rule is pretty simple; if you are strong enough or show that you are strong enough, even the top dog (whether America or China) will show enough consideration or will at least pay lip service to your concern.

    This is why Japan pursued the Meiji Revolution. To modernize was not (just) to become some “great” country but to merely survive. Japan saw what had happened to Imperial China—and did not want that fate to happen to them. They succeeded. They beat Imperial Russia. They “got into” the club.

    The choice between us is—assuming that China becomes regional hegemon—a future where China will treat us with (if grudging) respect or whether China will treat us like her bitch. Duterte (pardon the language) wants us to be Beijing’s bitch—este, tuta—if his statements and policies are to go by. That’s the real choice.

    Okay. Kung masyadong komplikado yan, tanungin mo nga ang iyong mga sarili: ano yung tingin mo sa alam mong sipsip? Kapantay mo—o mas mababa sa’yo?

    ‘Yan yung sagot sa kung ano yung tingin ni Xi sa atin. Sipsip. Mababa.

    I liken our nation’s situation right now to that of being pulled by a black hole. The thing about black holes is that they pull things towards them—and once you enter a certain distance (the “event horizon” as scientists call it) NOTHING can escape. Not even LIGHT—the fastest thing in the universe—can escape a black hole’s event horizon. Which is why a black hole is called a black hole; not even light can escape.

    Right now—the “world-system” is transitioning from a unipolar to a multipolar world, with the “regional sub-system” of “Southeast Asia” potentially transitioning from US-led unipolarity to China-led unipolarity. The key word there is transitioning. US may be losing its grip slowly, but China hasn’t yet mastered things either. Nothing is still purely certain. Things are still in flux.

    The Philippines can still build up strength and assert itself enough to build strategic space such that it will be prepared to stand proud against a dominant China and demand respect.

    I am reminded of the biblical tale of Joseph and the Pharoah. The Pharoah of Egypt said to Joseph, “I saw seven fat cows and seven thin cows.” Joseph replied, “Your Majesty—what that means is that Egypt shall experience seven years of abundant harvests and seven years of famine afterwards. Therefore—you should store some grain while the soil is still abundant, in preparation for the harsh years ahead.”

    Our economy is booming. AI is still relatively young and hasn’t (yet) killed our biggest 21st century (cash) cow—BPOs. We have just paid off our Marcos-era debts, and interest rates are at record lows. Automation hasn’t (yet) it full swing. Climate Change hasn’t (yet) fully hit us. China is still busy fumbling around, unsure of how to handle power yet.

    A figurative “Seven Fat Cows.” That’s what PNoy was trying to do with the whole tribunal business. He was trying to build up our strategic capacity—our ability to be independent, and to defend our independence. In pursuing our case at the Hague, the previous administration was simply doing its part in “storing the grain” for the “Seven Thin Years” that will be China’s peak.

    I will remind ka-DDS that the coming decades will be not kind to our services-led economy. AI will have enormous repurcussions for BPOs. Build Build Build may lead us to debt, with interest rates potentially rising accordingly. Automation will screw any job-led attempts at cutting poverty. Climate Change will lead to harsher typhoons.

    China will have figured out this whole “superpower” schtick and will know exactly what buttons to push. And escape from Beijing’s grasp will be nearly impossible.

    Which is why I likened our situation to that of a black hole. China is the black hole. Duterte wants to ram us right into it—when what we should be doing is getting away from it. The risk is that if Duterte wastes this moment (the “Seven Fat Cows”) we will enter the “event horizon” of the Chinese black hole.

    And escape from Beijing a fairy tale.

    • The Philippines has gone from standing ovations (Japanese Diet) to globally recognized backbiters and scoundrels. So, yes, foreign policy would seem to be a disaster.

      I think multi-polar is a good thing, as many Americans are tired of their sons and daughters carrying the load of democracy around the world.

      The most dismaying part of the Duterte concessions to China is portraying the Philippines and Filipinos as helpless. It is so opposite of the confidence and self-love that is needed to build a real sovereign, self-thinking, self-determined, independent, strong, prosperous nation.

      • Victor de Jesus says:

        Aesop’s “United we stand” and adding “divided we fall” motto and in Matthew 12:25 where the Lord said, “Every Kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” Similarly, we are familiar with, “Divide and conquer.” Spain prevented us from being united, we are regionally divided, speaking different languages, different customs and traditions. It was only during the time of President Quezon that Tagalog was proclaimed as the national language, with the hope to make us one.
        But still today, there remains an unspoken barrier of discrimination, in pronouncing tagalog words from our visayan brothers and sisters, albeit, it is not considered a national treat to our unity, but once in a while causes hurt feelings. In our history, we as a people are very territorial.
        Even during World War 2, wherein the head guerilla leader will not operate outside his territory, even if needed. unless a higher ranking American officer will coordinate a combine operation. Also in reference to this, we have had a long history of americans fighting along side Filipinos. Since World War 1 & 2, the Korean War. And if you ask our military, which would they prefer, American or Chinese? They will heartily say American. Even the president admits to this.
        Maybe, we should wonder, why does he need to mention that? If there is a threat to remove him as president, he will have to call on the Chinese to protect him. Is there such a threat? Is the president not assured of the protection of our Armed Forces that he needs to rely on Xi? We have a professional Armed Forces, soldiers who are well trained, the best of the best. Men who are loyal to the flag, and will give their life if needed. My father fought with them in Bataan and he told me, “Filipinos are brave because I saw them in action against the Japanese.” we saw them in action in Korea, the 10th Battalion Combat Team against the Chinese, in the Golan Heights against al Qaeda, and in Marawi.
        Why then, does the president need to call on the Chinese for protection? Another question is, who will gain more from our being divided? We are being fed with so many fake news, information and people are uneasy, confused and afraid. Who will benefit from this? Remember, “Divided we fall.”

        • The dividing is extreme, I agree. The President needs enemies to trample over constitutional protections. So he has several groups of enemies, including the destabilizing yellows, drug users, and rebels. Many used to think he was on their side, but became enemies, too. Like residents of Boracay. I don’t see how it can last. People are getting more outspoken, not less.

          • Victor de Jesus says:

            That 16 million is getting thinner by the day. The poor are the first to suffer from this TRAIN Law. We are being coerced into submission, bombarded by fake news and information. Majority of the people are very concerned, vexed with uncertainty, afraid to voice out their feelings. Our leader does not seem to care and China is stealthily creeping in, getting ready to strangle us with our very own umbilical cord.
            We are all concerned for the future of our beloved Philippines. There must be a way to turn this around in favor of our country however dire the situation may appear. Cochita Carpio-Morales is telling the people, “Not to be silent.”
            I pray that God will bless our Beloved Philippines and help our leaders to do what is right.

    • sonny says:

      “… I think we are transitioning from a unipolar world to a multipolar world; from a world where there is only one big dog (US) to a world where there are potentially many big dogs (EU, US, China, India, Russia, etc.”

      On the nose Francis. In Physics-speak, we are transitioning from a Newtonian world to a Quantum world. IMO. The complementary social technologies (good & bad) are here and being discovered daily.

  3. NHerrera says:

    To add to your “perhaps” — in fact, it is already implied in the blog article — look at it from China’s viewpoint. It has oodles and oodles of mullah. (Instead of making the still many Chinese poor’s life more comfortable, the Chinese leaders have decided instead on using that for their grand design on the many states up for grabs.) From that no leap of faith is needed; only the most elementary logic is required: it tells them that the PH — a pearl worth having for immediate gains and strategic value — can be had on the cheap. Not to implement that will indeed be the height of stupidity on China’s part. QED.

  4. Francis sees the concept of leverage, which applies everywhere, even in business.

    How you get treated depends on what you have to offer and how you drive your bargain for it.

    The Philippines was treated relatively well by both Spain and the USA, many have observed Why?

    1) Beachhead role. For both, it was a key to accessing Asia.

    2) Too far away. Logistically hard to invade in great numbers like the Carribean or the East Coast.

    2a) indirect rule via ex-datus that became prinicipalia first and trapos later

    2b) no massive migration and displacement/reduction like with the natives of the above areas!

    3) How did Spain, England and USA treat its first and nearest colonies/conquests?

    3a) NEW colonial powers are always at their most ruthless, they become nicer with time

    3b) The natives of the Canaries and the Carribean (Spain) or the US East Coast (England) – gone.

    3c) The natives of the first Pacific conquest of the USA (Hawaii) – a minority now

    4) Does it pay to be the bitch of a great power? NO!

    4a) Cuba in the time of Batista was the gambling and prostitution island of the Mafia (US version)

    4b) Kennedy himself realized mistakes were made that alienated Cuba from the United States.

    4c) Tibet practically threw itself at China, its leaders then sucking up – where is Tibet now?

    5) It pays to look at precedents to predict how certain powers will act

    5a) China will usually try to Sinify both culturally and racially whatever it holds

    5b) the USA will be ruthless at the start and nice in case it wins an ally (Japan, Germany, Phils.)

    5c) Russia was in between US and Chinese methods – some migration, some cultural assimilation.


    So what can happen to the Philippines based on its subservience (4a and 4c), its geographical nearness (3b or 3c) and Chinese policy to date (5a). Either it ends up as a Southern extension of Taiwan, its native population marginalized like in Hawaii or worse, the brown-skinned decimated, the Chinese-looking part forced to culturally assimilate or be suspect. That is the worst case. Or it becomes a bit like Cuba in Batista’s time, home to Chinese syndicates like Havana was a cozy place for Bugsy Siegel and the like in the 1950s – one thing that motivated the bearded rebels.

    There is already the precedent of how the Japanese treated the Filipinos from 1942 – 1945- including the stories of betrayal and heroism that played out then. Ricarte, Laurel and the Makapili. But also the Hukbalahap and the pro-US guerillas. The Philippines. Land of heros and scoundrels.


    Aguinaldo also acted subservient to Spain (1897) after getting money, then the US took him home on a steamboat (1898) and he invoked the protection of the “Mighty and Humane North American Nation” – almost as ridiculously as “Xi have mercy” Duterte nowadays. Did the US recognize him? His best general wondered aloud why Aguinaldo was letting the US put up flags and soldiers in all of Manila. But his possible hope for a Republic under US patronage remained a pipe dream. Later leaders of the Philippines became US clients, similar to House supermajorities and Filipino mayors. Just like the Philippine principalia were Spanish clients. Unfortunately, unlike the United States, I doubt that the Chinese are interested in long-term Filipino subservience. My worst speculation is that there will be an Insular China in the future, with Taiwan and the ex-Philippines as its keystones.

    • P.S. I think some Filipino leaders have a serious problem with the US no longer interested in the subservience of old, wanting more partners than it did before. There is simply NO tradition of independent foreign, much less military policy in the Philippines.

      Duterte’s whining “why did the USA not stop China from building islands” is the mindset of a lapdog who expects the patron to do give full protection in exchange for full subservience – toward his lapdogs he has a similar attitude, all based on utang na loob bonds of course.

      • Francis says:

        “Duterte’s whining ”why did the USA not stop China from building islands’ is the mindset of a lapdog who expects the patron to do give full protection in exchange for full subservience – toward his lapdogs he has a similar attitude, all based on utang na loob bonds of course.”

        Maybe the key to convincing ordinary Filipinos of the sheer stupidity of the administration’s foreign policy lies not in abstract, highfalutin nationalist speeches on ANC or vague nationalist feelings channeled through memes and the like (as seen in how—on issues valued by citizens—less than five percent thought our foreign policy as important, if I’m not mistaken) but in…

        …shouting aloud, 24/7 how China is NOT going to be like your friendly trapo who shows up in fiestas and throws you lechon once in a while. China is not the trapo who can (once in a while, i.e. election season) drink beer with you.

        China is a padrino in bad faith, which is to say—not a padrino at all.

        • “China is a padrino in bad faith, which is to say—not a padrino at all.”

          Well said.

        • Could it be that you also just read Syjuco’s NYT article?

          The other day, here in Abu Dhabi, the Filipino man cutting my hair told me about the politics in his hometown. Everyone knows the politicians are corrupt, he explained, but it’s excused because at least they provide for the community.

          “They always come to our fiestas,” he said, with a shrug. “And they give us money so that we can have them.”

          Of course the classic patronage bond was a bit stronger than just drinking beer. A ninong politician could be someone you asked for monetary help when there was sickness in the family, or for mediation (areglo) in case of matters to be settled with neighbors.

          The unwritten rule of utang na loob being that you helped in return, for example by helping in his campaigns – or also helping in situations involving neighbors or rivals. All solutions that replace the state in its protective role (rule of law, medical insurance, policing) and the client is like a good citizen towards his patron (loyalty, possibly even bearing arms for the patron). But I think a lot of that in the modern Philippines has been replaced by bayaran (paid) stuff, utang na loob is not necessarily something you can rely on anymore like in the rural culture.

          So Syjuco is also right in calling many arrangements today transactional. Possibly that is the spirit of the times in the Philippines today. A comment on the FB page I run on Filipino stuff was “mukhang hindi na uso ang bayani ngayon, bayaran lang”. Sad but possibly true.

          • Francis says:


            That anecdote of Filipinos being content with a leadership that gives them an occasional glance or nod was what I was exactly thinking of.

            We seem to be misunderstanding China as a benevolent padrino—when that is far from the case; this is a nation, a government that ruthlessly pursues its goals—even when inhumane. Marcos was cruel (and I don’t wish to diminish his cruelty) but he was a sultan. The authoritarianism of personalistic rule can be uniquely sadistic, but it is something comprehensible. We Filipinos have never known (except maybe under Japan) the feeling of totalitarian authoritarianism.

            Look, if China were a democracy—I would be opening to switching from Washington to Beijing if it couldn’t be helped. Unfortunately—China is under an autocratic one-party state whose cruelty is incomprehensibly more efficient than our Sultan Marcos; imagine sending representatives of PDP-Laban to sleep in the houses of families in ARMM, or to have a giant social credit system that (if you do the “wrong” things or even be friends with the “wrong” people) forbids you from riding the MRT or taking a plane ride.

            China does this. Officials of the Communist Party sometimes reside in the houses of families in Xinjang. The social credit system does bar you from riding trains or taking plane rides if your score is low enough. There’s something goddamned inhuman about shit like this. The “utang na loob” system—for all its faults and mishaps—is natural thing that arises from the natural human need to build and utilize trust.

            This is no smiling padrino. This is inhuman ruthlessness.

            • For the simple world of the original farming and fishing barangays, utang na loob and related traits were an ideal way of organizing the community for mutual benefit. Money was hardly needed in an economy of favors, and power and wealth was not yet that asymmetric.

              The Filipino of today still usually prefers personal relationships to anonymous dependencies and personal give and take to following strange, abstract rules – this is why the Japanese occupation with its slapping officers was so hated by Filipinos, Chinese rule will be worse, unless they do manage to package it in an apparently friendly way, keep the real details not known to the Filipinos and have comedians entertain them, Mayor and Senate President.

    • Most fascinating projection of history into the future.

  5. gerverg1885 says:


    China had been rolling in the aisle and bursting their eyes out with copious tears at how willing the pet was going to great lengths to be mastered.

    This is naturally the consequence of a man trying his best to show that he is a real leader when the truth is…he could not even qualify to be compared to the lowliest of his fanatics. Why pay so many trolls and fake news bearers when you are seen as genuinely concerned about the country and not of your own image that you are trying hard to maintain because you are acting it out?

  6. Tancio de Leon says:

    YES, OUR FOREIGN POLICY APPEARS TO BE A DISASTER. The whole thing seems to be a joke. Why should China concern itself with the problems of the Philippines, when they have their own social problems.
    In remarks Tuesday night, President Duterte revealed that China’s president Xi Jinping had personally assured him of protection from ouster.
    President Digong should first make sure that he has the continued support of the 16 millions voters – not China’s assurance of protection – that he should count on in the face of possible ouster moves.
    Sen. Francis Pangilinan said no amount of backing from foreign governments could save a leader who has lost the support of his constituents.
    “This government should rely on the support of its own people, and not on China or any other foreign government, to ensure a strong and effective administration,” said Pangilinan, who is president of the opposition Liberal Party.
    Lacson and Sen. Gregorio Honasan, in separate interviews, said the Philippines could still lean on the ruling of The Hague-based arbitral tribunal debunking China’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea. They also said the government can still mobilize support from the international community and invoke its various security agreements with allies without being confrontational with China.
    Honasan, chairman of the Senate committee on national defense and security, cited the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US, and the similar pacts with co-members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
    Lacson said that while the Philippines cannot militarily confront China, it has the arbitral ruling on its side.
    He said that based on history, countries that lost in rulings on territorial disputes eventually complied with arbitral decisions.
    “What we need now is international pressure but under this administration there is no lobbying being done,” Lacson said while appearing to admit weakness,. “While we cannot implement the ruling, at least, we should show we are exerting efforts to find allies to pressure China.”

  7. Bill In Oz says:

    Folks the Chinese are seeking friends and agents of influence anywhere they can. And they have significant money & assets to offer such friends and agents. Here is a recent example of what has emerged in Australia.


    The Philippines is not alone. But it may have been more successful there.

    • This is a map of Chinese encroachments in the past 2 years only.. if one looks from the mid-1990s especially, after US bases were closed, the picture is similar if not worse I guess..

      • Fascinating, and it will reflect many more projects, railways, casinos, BPOs. Filipinos risk becoming laborers of the style of Mexican day workers in the US, except for the few who are empowered as bosses . . . working, of course, for the Chinese masters.

        • Bill In Oz says:

          And in France – in the French secret service !

          • NHerrera says:

            Bill, in the case of the Philippines, China does not have to invest in spies; that would be superfluous or a waste: we are talking here of China virtually getting the country and its resources — human and other resources — after a small initial investment.

            • Bill In Oz says:

              But N’Hererra, a ‘president’ surely comes at some cost ?

              • NHerrera says:


                Well, if you take the initial “small” investment in a present-value way, the later payments/ costs may be seen as discounted and part of the initial investment, heh heh. 🙂

                I am just starting to read Paul Monk’s Quadrant article. I am enjoying the read so far, especially since I too am an avid fan of John Le Carre and have read the three novels mentioned — The Secret Pilgrim; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Smiley’s People — as well as his first, “The Spy who came in from the cold,” and more. Thanks for this last link.

                Not anymore, “the Russians are coming,” but “the Chinese have arrived.”

              • NHerrera says:

                I understand the great concern of Paul Monk. Most if not all Australians should rightly be concerned. These lines sums it up for me:

                The Russians counted on ideology and venality to place moles in the West. They continued to have successes right through to the end of the Cold War. The Chinese have advantages that the Soviet Union never enjoyed: a booming economy, a huge trade relationship with their target countries, not least Australia; interested lobby groups working on their behalf; very large pools of Chinese migrants in this and other Western countries; huge numbers of students and tourists coming here and to the other leading Western countries every year; and a widespread view that they are now a capitalist country set to overtake the United States, a view which encourages both apologias on their behalf and band-wagoning.

                (Highlighting, mine.)

          • Bill In Oz says:

            Another very informative link this time about Chinese penetration of Australia & the USA.


            • edgar lores says:

              Bill, thanks. Long read but fascinating. And penetrating.

              • NHerrera says:


              • NHerrera says:


                Can’t get enough of this. Le Carre’ should have had this material on top of Britain’s Notorious Five.

                Paul Monk had fun writing that article too — among others, his double entendre (edgar was ahead of me on the note with his line “And penetrating.”):

                They [FBI] thought they had a brilliant penetration operation running; but while their top agents [Smith and Cleveland] were certainly penetrating Katrina Leung, she was penetrating the FBI in a manner that put the legendary Mata Hari in the shade.

                Permit me this Ad, Bill: guys if you enjoy Le Carre’ you must read Paul Monk’s article referenced by Bill. It is contemporaneous too — spying by China.

  8. Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

    I just read the piece and without reading the comments which could be a DETAILING of what it is, what TSoH blog is TRULY all about, two words had just been NEATLY defined with the sound of drums: HONOR and TREASON; honor versus treason in an unbreakable crucible of surgical analysis. There you go, you have done it again. .. AND AGAIN, TSoH.

    • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

      TSoH bloggers may just compile and consolidate from social media and create a parallel blog and call it TSoT. So there the thoughts and ideas may starkly differentiate like days from nights, H from T.

      • NHerrera says:

        If Joe’s counterpart in TSoT is as serious and prolific, along with equally serious commenters, a blog article a day may not be fast enough. Pity that counterpart. 🙂

        • sonny says:

          NH, at “a blog a day” and the other specs you cite, that’s MENSA speed for me. 🙂 Reminds me why I stopped reading SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. It’s READER’S DIGEST for me.

          • NHerrera says:

            Sonny, I read your note as:


            Good. That is consistent with my readings of your many posts in TSH.

            By the way, I may have missed something here. I have not seen a post from our friend karl lately. Do you know if he is on vacation, etc?

            • sonny says:

              Ha ha … In my dreams! Good catch on my Freudian slip, NH. 🙂

              I noticed Karl’s silence too. Joe might know. I’m holding off my worry.

              PS. Googling Paul Monk I came across Paul M.S, Monk author PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY: Understanding our Chemical World. Worth investing, I feel even this late in life. Amazon has it in paperback.

              PPS. I miss the condensed book section of Reader’s Digest.

  9. edgar lores says:

    1. I have thought about it and I don’t think China has a hold on Duterte. I think it is more the other way round, that Duterte has got ahold of China.

    2. To be sure there are strings attached and the puppet master is China and Duterte is the puppet.

    3. As surmised, the strings pertain to money, perhaps to drugs, certainly to Duterte’s health and wellbeing, and to promises made.

    3.1. I don’t think Duterte can be a victim of blackmail. He is so black that nothing can shame him. Not even rumors of incest.

    3.2. No doubt Duterte, with his utang-na-loob mindset, feels indebted to China.

    3.3. On the whole, however, I sense that Duterte clings to China as a drowning man clings to a lifesaving ring thrown from the mothership that is China.

    4. It is all about ego. Duterte’s core ambition is to be remembered, his core dream to achieve immortality. It does not matter what he is remembered for as long as he is remembered.

    4.1. Vicara states that Duterte is transactional, tactical, and transitory. The first two, yes, but not the last. (Or, perhaps, the last, too, but in due time.)

    4.2. He has been bitten by the megalomania of the Pharaohs of Egypt and the Emperors of China. Not to mention Marcos.

    4.3. It is not enough that he is remembered for the Drug War. Well, he won’t be. The number of victims is pitiable when compared to the purges of Stalin and Mao. To Pol Pot even.

    4.4. He has to be remembered for something grandiose. The trains. The subway. The Marawi reconstruction.

    4.5. Ah, poor soul! The poverty of his imagination.

    5. Nevertheless, in the penury of his mind, Duterte needs China and he will sacrifice all honor and all nobility to assuage his need. All he knows is that he needs China. Immediately. Immensely. Indubitably.

    6. Well, I can tell you now that Duterte will be remembered. He will be remembered as the most foolish president that ever ruled these fools’ paradise.

    • Sup says:

      “What does China have on President Duterte?”

      When Duterte was going to checkup his brains in the hospital in Davao because of big headaches the doctor told him they could not help him because the manual inside his brain was written in Chinese 🙂

    • I was worried about your assessment until point 6. Then I determined it was brilliant.

    • distant observer says:

      Yes, Duterte clings on his enablers. And China on the other hand will not let go (as recently stated by Duterte himself) because Beijing knows it will never find another utang-na-loob footman as loyal and as easy to manipulate as the current president. Or is Cayetano a real alternative?

      • edgar lores says:

        No doubt Cayetano is manipulatable. But he is not a real alternative. He would make a poor right-hand man.

        No doubt he would obey but he cannot command. He does not possess gravitas. He does not have the force majeure of menace.

  10. Sup says:

    Buy popcorn and read this…..


    Nayong Pilipino board member sues colleagues in new DOT row

    It seems that more problems, including infighting, are unraveling in offices connected to the Department of Tourism (DOT).

  11. NHerrera says:


    Jarius Bondoc wrote for The Philippine Star an article titled: “Japanese, German techs detail Dalian train defects.”


    Return those trains to China to fix the many defects. That’s the recommendation of Japanese evaluators of the 48 MRT-3 railcars from Dalian Locomotive & Rolling Stock Co. German engineers separately noted the same faults, and told the Dept. of Transportation to act accordingly. Ride safety, reliability, and comfort depend on it.

    Dozens of flaws have been found. Among those are uninspected, untested basic components and safety features. Examples: wheels, axles, brakes, auto-doors, vibrations, interior noise, lighting, ventilation and air conditioning, flooring, roof, driver’s cab, and electrical couplings.

    Those are on top of earlier bared serious design flops. The railcars, or coaches, are 3.3 tons overweight and the chassis ill fit. Configured for four-coach train sets, each train would be 13.2 tons heavier. Wrong sized, they cannot be hoisted for inspection and repair on existing hi-precision equipment at the MRT-3 depot.

    “The cars should be returned to Dalian factory and rebuilt,” experts from Japanese giant Sumitomo Corp. concluded in Apr. Rework should be “from design qualification until factory acceptance under supervision of a rail consultant and/or DOTr with full responsibility” – meaning, begin again. In Mar. the Japan International Cooperation Agency, from which DOTr is borrowing to rehabilitate MRT-3, called in Sumitomo as the commuter railway’s original constructor and maintenance servicer.

    TUV Rheinland technicians saw similar design and manufacturing faults. Deviating from contract specs, Dalian lacked requisite safety and performance certifications. DOTr hired the German quality-audit firm in Feb.

    DOTr should have acted at once on Sumitomo and TUV Rheinland’s findings. Transport Sec. Arthur Tugade and Railways U-Sec. Timothy John Batan repeatedly said before that they would abide by the specialists’ assessment of Dalian wares.

    Singapore, Hong Kong, and Pakistan had returned for retrofitting botched Chinese trains.

    The least we can do is follow what those other countries did. If we act softly on this, we may get more lemons and pay for those. If verified, will there be no P.I. word from our dear leader?


    • sonny says:

      Between top-level political oversight and anal technical expertise is where the end-user will find and settle for its safety, comfort and utility. This is the recurring paradigm that both nationalistic visionaries and solipsistic dictators will find themselves enmeshed in for good and bad.

  12. distant observer says:

    What China has on Duterte might well be the million Dollar question. I would say your five guesses are spot on. Perhaps one of them is true, maybe even more than one. What is for sure is that the unifying motivation for both Duterte and the decision makers in Beijing is the hate towards America and everything it stands for. However, I think Duterte’s hate towards the US might dwarf the „communists“ hate in this regard.

    A thought experiment: Think back to 2014 or so, when the cadres of the Communist Party of China concerned with foreign policy had to set up a plan for the 2016 Philippine’s presidential election. In the manner of traditional American foreign policy interference, all the potential candidates were examined: Binay, Poe, Roxas, Defensor Santiago, Duterte, probably a hand full of other promising candidates. Which was the most friendly towards China? Which one could be manipulated best in order for Beijing to reach strategic goals? Obviously, the choice was on Duterte; which other candidate showed such a disrespect for human rights, was sympathetic towards socialist ideology and whose family members had already existing ties to Chinese drug distribution organizations? Not to mention his adamant aversion against America. It is ironic that his electoral victory was achieved by using one of American’s biggest companies: Facebook. But as the widely known quote from Deng says: “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice.” On April 12 to 17, 2016, terms and conditions for Duterte’s presidency were discussed. A Filipino president by the grace of the Emperor of China. In 2016. The US State Department certainly took notice that the Chinese stepped up their game.

    Maybe it’s simply a matter of love and hate. Maybe Duterte’s hate towards America is bigger than his love for the Philippines. Maybe he is willing to do anything to alienate the Philippines from the US, even if that implies to grant another foreign country much more influence. Even if that implies a lot of suffering for his own countrymen.

    • That is an interesting point. I tend to think the reasons are material rather than emotional, but it for sure is true, Duterte does not like the US at all.

    • edgar lores says:

      1. Beijing had the pick of the crop — Binay and Duterte.

      2. From China’s viewpoint, the better candidate was Duterte. Binay would not have had the mojo to pivot towards China so decisively and completely.

      3. If one thinks about it, Duterte has more integrity in his evilness than Binay. The latter is licentious in matters financial and sexual. But the former is licentious in all matters… including homicidal and unconstitutional.

  13. Victor gabor says:


  14. Brad Crowe says:

    the BCP/CPC is obviously the major sponsor of duterte.

  15. ISABEL REYES says:

    After thousands EJK’d this question is now irrelevant. The question now is – When is ICC coming to knock on Pres.Duterte’s door? Hope those handcuffs are not made in China.

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