Is President Duterte turning away from China?

[Wikipedia: Pasay City on November 13, 2017. ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO]

Analysis and Opinion

By Joe America

Three remarkable events have occurred during recent weeks.

  • First, President Duterte spoke up during an ASEAN teleconference in favor of UNCLOS and against sea-claim tensions, a clear stance opposing China’s expansion.
  • Second, it was reported in the news that Chinese on-line gambling businesses (Pogos) are leaving the Philippines.
  • These incidents followed President Duterte’s about face on exiting the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States as he suspended termination of the Agreement.

What’s the background?

China’s aggression knows no limits, and the establishment of Chinese “districts” and the backbone of an Air Defense Network over the South China and West Philippine Seas is hard for the Philippines to stomach. Furthermore, China has done very little to help the Philippines. Ever. In any way. And, finally, the Pogos became hard to justify with 50 billion in taxes unpaid, and continuing problems with Chinese exceptionalism, including underground Chinese virus clinics. A lot of heat was coming to bear on the Duterte Administration from the Senate and elsewhere.

Well, in retrospect, it appears that China the State never was the reason for the pivot to China. China the cronies was the reason (see background article “How the Philippines sees the US and China; they’re different“): business interests for Dennis Uy’s New Clark City, investments in Davao (legal and rumored smuggling), and the Pogos which were generous at paying commissions, if not taxes.

China and the Pogos killed their own best interests by not thinking at all about Filipino interests. China stole territory and the economic benefits belonging to the Philippines. The Pogos were too much trouble. President Duterte could no longer back either association, with China or with law-breakers.

Retreat became the order of the day.

Remaining Chinese businesses and visa-holders will have to subscribe to Philippine laws to remain here. How many will do that is yet to be seen.

But the old claim that President Duterte is in bed with China no longer fits. China may still be in the next room, but one gets the idea that the President is visiting with the Americans . . . or his Defense and Foreign Affairs people are . . . to keep his country secure.

It’s a big deal.

A new new direction for the Philippine future.


109 Responses to “Is President Duterte turning away from China?”
  1. The best litmus test is 5G, Joe.

    “The pace of 5G in Asia is picking up, with Hong Kong about to get its first service and Philippines set for a Q2 launch.

    Just a few days after SoftBank foreshadowed Japan’s first 5G offering, Hutchison Telecom has announced it will introduce 5G to Hong Kong from April 1. (See SoftBank ignites Japan 5G market with March 27 launch.)

    It will provide initial coverage in key malls, including in the central business district, as well as the airport and convention center. Customers can buy 100GB packages for HK$388 ($49.95) and 200GB bundles for HK$699.

    Hutchison hasn’t revealed which handsets it will sell or details of new services, but it promises new business apps and “AR/VR games and low latency video learning.”

    CEO Kenny Koo said the company would leverage Hutchison affiliates in Europe to create a “cross-boundary and cross-industry” era.

    The plunge into 5G has been imminent since operators acquired slices of 3.5GHz, 4.9GHz 3.3GHz spectrum late last year. (See Hong Kong Set for 2020 5G Launch After $128M Auction.)

    In the Philippines, PLDT, the parent of mobile player Smart Communications, has flagged up a start to 5G in the second quarter, Philippines Star reports.

    But PLDT’s chief revenue officer and Smart president, Al Panlilio, wasn’t very definitive. “We’re starting to roll out some basestations for 5G,” he said. “We are plotting to have something that we can bring to the market maybe sometime in the second quarter.”

    The company had planned a launch of home broadband and enterprise fixed wireless access by the fourth quarter last year, but postponed it to get a better grasp of the new technology.”

    • It’s rather an interesting scenario. China is deeply into the Philippines for consumer products and utilities. The Philippines has few secrets to secure, so I think it is not as sensitive an issue as it is for the big military players. The Philippines could work by building cocoons of secure conversations within a broad, risky (unsecured) communication network. Or, looking at it from a different angle, I don’t think the Philippines can afford to extract China from her agencies and services here.

      • kasambahay says:

        true, Philippines cannot afford to extract China from her agencies and services, said joeam. what we should really try to establish is for china to remain mainly our trading partner, and not interfering with our security and internal affairs, insinuating itself in both politics and policies in the day to day running of our nation, curtailing our ability to govern ourselves in whom we see and favor.

        methink, pseudo chinese agents and sympathizers are in senate and congress, our public officials bribed with numerous trips to china, being feted and given generous political donations among others.

        and our shameless public officials are only too happy to comply, lol!

        as for duterte, he does not travel often to china anymore, not that welcome perhaps? dont come, coz we’ll come to you once of aircraft needs refueling maybe, free of charge of course, if not heavily discounted chinese style, lol!

    • chemrock says:

      Singapore chooses Nokia and Ericsson for 5G.

  2. karlgarcia says:

    One more thing I hope to end pronto.
    Hiring of Chinese for build build build.

    • kasambahay says:

      I think it’s part of the build build build contract, chinese firms bringing their own workers along. duterte kasi signed contract without much thought, did not porsigir that local filipino workers be brought in early on, maybe 60% our own workers to chinese 40%. or something similar. he was in too hurry to start building projects that he missed the devil in the detail.

      now, he’s probly lamenting at leisure, lol!

      • karlgarcia says:

        Also practiced in Africa and Latin America.
        The Chinese faced backlash in Africa due to racism incidents on Guanzou.

        • kasambahay says:

          african nations sumulat yata to beijing via their embassies and complain about the racist
          treatment meted out to africans. ngayon ay medyo hindi na raw gaano kalupit ang mga chinese. africans can now breathe.

  3. NHerrera says:

    Thanks for this welcome development. The factors given for the apparent about-face — the tip of the iceberg — are persuasive, but I am curious about other weighty factors below the waterline. I suppose DFA Sec Locsin and Amb Romualdez had substantial inputs.

    • I’m sure they did, and Sec. Lorenzana, who thinks China’s attempt to control air space is very wrong.

      • kasambahay says:

        by now I’m presuming our beloved lorenzana has gotten the notion that communist china has indeed enforced ADIZ , air defence ID zone, in all of west phil sea and has claimed sovereignty on both air and sea.

        aside from saying it’s very wrong for china to attempt to control air space, I’m presuming again that lorenzana has communicated well and clear what he thinks not just to his communist chinese counterpart but to communist china as well. lorenzana may not make a dent, but his counterpart will know where he stands.

        already, 14 of our fishermen missing at sea, all presumed dead, their boat binangga yata ng hongkong owned, chinese maritime vessel. I think it not as provocation by the communist state but as way of enforcing ADIZ. so all those at the disputed sea, smaller vessels specially, have to be extra careful for they may well be now at the mercy of the communist state.

        communist china is escalating, and all duterte could say is dont escalate tension. and we sure wont! but we can always let our communist friend know what we think, lol! nice dress, is that cheongsam?

    • karlgarcia says:

      Lorenzana said he won stop India from navigating in the SCS (why would PH stop anyone from navigating?) but it will just add to the tensions.
      India and China maybe in a truce but it is still tense between them.(India just boycotted Chinese apps)

      At the same time Lorenzana told China to hold war games in their Exclusive zones not in ours.

  4. karlgarcia says:

    Few secrets to secure.

    Just finished a webinar on Data privacy and online distance learning.
    Most parents are apprehensive on enabling their web cameras because their children are minors.
    I guess it boils down to consent and the adult is responsible for their children.

    With all this privacy issues on zoom, fb,socmed
    Yet there are gazillions of privacy issuees but it should be accepted that there is nothing private in socmed.

    5G has yet to roll out, there are already sim card swap scams that offeres 5g, which wiped out bank accounts of unsuspecting victims.

    Few secrets
    People talk loud in coffee shops and said peoole read blind item in a gossip column.
    Would that be a privacy or pryvacy issue.
    So many open secrets flaunted then if many notice they suddenly become shy.

    • A story told to me by an East German. He was worried about being watched by the secret police. He asked a colleague in the canteen and that person said you can always ask them to show their IDs.

      Outside on the street two men he had suspected of following him were standing. When he passed one said “forget about asking us for our IDs, that doesn’t work”.

      • karlgarcia says:

        They had listening devices?

        • karlgarcia says:

          Or they were talking too loud.

        • karlgarcia says:

          *Alleged secret police may have listening devices or their target is talking too loud already

          • The Stasi was pretty much everywhere in pre-1989 East Germany. Another possibility is that the “friend” who talked to him worked for them. Neighbors reported on each other.

            Re talking loud, I recall how hushed up people talked in public in Prague in the 1980s. It was possible to visit Czechoslovakia then with a visa given at the border as they wanted tourist money. One could feel how afraid people were – I didn’t like the atmosphere.

            • How Stasi officers thought and acted – and were trained:

              • karlgarcia says:

                The more agitated you are, the more not guilty you are.
                The more guilty you are, the calmer you are.
                So non stop interrogation will find out which is which.

                No to Anti-Terror law!

              • kasambahay says:

                non stop interrogation is tiresome and torturous at times and the result is not always reliable. dahil often, after long hours of interrogation, suspects is overwhelmed, tired and hungry and deprived of sleep and will say yes to anything and everything just to stop the torturous interrogation.

                there had been many forced confessions that put wrong suspects in jail.

                no to anti terror law!

              • The movie has a lot of details right – even if the movie plot of a Stasi captain turning protective towards his “target” is interesting but unlikely.

                The former communist prison in Berlin (Hohenschönhausen) where the captive is interrogated is now a memorial site, tour guides tell people how it was there – and occassionally old Stasi officers sneak into tour groups and challenge them.

                One technique of totalitarian regimes is to depersonalize people. The man interrogated is called “Prisoner No. 227”, becomes a number. Another technique is to threaten people who are dear to you. “We can arrest your wife today. Your kids will go into state care”.

                The third technique of sending children into state care was used by both Nazi and East Germany. The children of Colonel Count Stauffenberg, the coup plotter played by Tom Cruise in Valkyrie, were “fortunate” that the regime lasted only a year more as they were sent to foster families. There is a fourth technique shown in the movie – a woman who sees the Stasi officers in the stairwell of the writer being observed is threatened by Major Wiesler “make sure your daughter stays in medical school”.

                Actually a combination with a fifth technique “we know everything about you” to scare people. I do have a former colleague who had issues getting an IT job in united Germany as many West Germans do not know that those who did not conform to the regime did not get the opportunity to study. Angela Merkel got the opportunity to study, she was able to master the technique of toeing the line without collaborating, taking a quiet path. But she was in the Communist Youth. Guess not joining would have disqualified her from studies. Being a scientist probably exempted her from the kind of observation that humanities students – all humanities like history, social studies etc. was politicized there. Growing up in East Germany I guess did teach her skills like not revealing her true intentions and all.

              • kasambahay says:

                anti terror law would not stop kapolisan and military from firing and killing each other.

                4 soldiers dead mistakenly shot by kapolisan kuno. the soldiers gathering intel close to polis station? and why were the soldiers even together, parang quadruplets tagging along.

                at kung talagang intel sila, they were not supposed to be together and be easy picking for sniper. medyo amateurish, e, hindi stealth. did don quixote trained them?

              • Sometimes even the ruthlessly efficient Stasi had to come up in teams. Karl was curious about listening devices – they were lowtech then, 1980s, but they managed to put them everywhere. The team in the movie takes 20 minutes, I assume the scene is authentic.

                The scene where Major Wiesler threatens the neighbor that her daughter will not be able to study is in this sequence. After that he tells his people to send her a gift as a reward for her cooperation – that would be a further tactic, Nr. 6 – buy people off, make them complicit.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Nothing I can do about your comment excerpt to tell you that I resent it.(AFP amateurish)

              • Karl, kasambahay: maybe led into a trap. What if they were about to meet a police contact who was to come out of the station? Not all are as smart as Sam, the ex-CIA operative played by Robert Dr Niro in Ronin, and able to plan for all eventualities.

                I wonder who the military men last called on their mobiles, there might be a clue there. BTW I just came out that one of them was shot EIGHT times. Reminds me of how they finished Heneral Luna, though in those days bullets had less power than today.

              • karlgarcia says:

                They called for backup who were on standby.
                They were the ones in the crime scene before the SOCO arrived.
                The Army admitted this.

              • kasambahay says:

                sorry po, did not mean to cause resentment, karlg. so blunt of me, bisaya kasi, galing sa covid hotspot, cebu.

              • karlgarcia says:

                I hear you, I just voiced out my reaction.
                My resentment is very temporary.
                I have relatives(sister of my mom and fam) in Cebu who keeps on telling us not to worry.
                Of course we still worry .

            • “How to destroy artists according to the Stasi”

              • karlgarcia says:

                Had to look it up.


                On destroying artists- quarrantine them for ten months.

              • Lt. Col. Grubitz is the typical corrupt East German communist type, a career cynic, while Major Wiesler is the fanatical communist, a “true believer” – somehow similar to his target, the author Dreyman.

                There is a scene where the Lt. Col. chances on a group of young joking in the canteen. I think the one joking is even the “Matt Damon” type from the lecture scene, the one who asks a question (“isn’t that inhuman”) and is immediately noted down by his professor. He says “I don’t mind, tell the joke, we are not without humor in our socialist system”.

                The young recruit tells the joke “Chairman Honecker wakes up an greets the sun in the East, The sun answers back ‘good morning dear Chairman’. He goes for a walk at noon and greets the sun, it answers back. ‘good afternoon dear Chairman’. At sunset, he greets the sun again, and it answers ‘FUCK YOU I’M IN THE WEST NOW!”.

                Grubitz laughs sinisterly and everybody with him. In a scene from 1989, the recruit is shown working in the post office of the Ministry of State Security along with his former professor Wiesler – meaning he has been “freezered”. “Freezer” was BTW the old MFA term for Filipino diplomats given a desk without a phone and without real work for political reasons. Yes, it is DFA now. The term is from the Marcos era but it fits.

                Also good in the movie – the Stasi people all have new clothes, somehow remiscent of Star Trek. Wiesler is like a communist Picard. An East German told me about how Stasi people were ALWAYS recognizable by their new clothes, while common people looked scruffy, like the man who is interrogated. When they came in 1989 they all looked like out of a second hand shop. Higher officials and parlamentarians often wore suits in 1980s pastel tones, but somehow “off”. Young women had make-up like 1980s pop stars but A BIT TOO MUCH, Dreyman’s girlfriend is styled exactly like they were in those days. A day trip to East Berlin was possible in those days, you got a stamp in your passport at Friedrichstraße crossing point and had to be back the same day. Still the place was another planet, somehow.

                Major attraction, in a morbid way: East German soldiers changing the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier, Unter den Linden. They goose-stepped like the old German army, and like all Communist armies did and still do. Goose step is pure intimidation. The border cops and the street cops looked more like Grubitz, moustached and cynical. It looked VERY strange when they all had ill-fitting West German police uniforms on as part of the unified Berlin police on October 3, 1990. I was in Berlin on the day of reunification.

              • kasambahay says:

                ah, irineo, methink, one of the best thing that come out of east germany is my all time fave east german skater, katarina witt. so pretty, so skillful and perfect in many ways. olympic champ 2x. a force in her heyday she was.

                then comes top placer angela merkel, tough as german steel and politically astute.

              • sonny says:

                Katarina Witt: too heavy to finesse skating routines. But she is pretty. 🙂

              • sonny says:

                PS. Yuna Kim gets my vote, all-time.

              • kasambahay says:

                you have good taste, sonny. cheers.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Sonny has even higher standards than Olympic judges in terms of scoring grace and finesse.

              • sonny says:

                Ksmbahay, Karl, I’m forever grateful I’ve watched great women’s skaters in my lifetime: Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, Kristine Yamaguchi, Oksana Baiul, Yuna Kim. When I watched Oksana the first time, I swear I thought she was born with her skates. 🙂

  5. karlgarcia says:

    If the POGOS leave how can the taxman run after them?

    • kasambahay says:

      dang! taxman should have done its duty and collect taxes right on and not wait until after pogos departure to be collecting taxes. I say, jail the taxman for dereliction of duty.

      if only what is applied to abs-cbn was applied to pogo, there would have been billions of taxes in govt coffer.

  6. karlgarcia says:

    I had a feeling Dutrte was told that ASEAN woulddefy China that is why he tokd them to follow UNCLOS and not allow things to escalate.

  7. karlgarcia says:

    Iran suing Trump.
    US soldiers being a target of Taliban bounty hunters hired by Russia.
    US flexing its Naval muscles to make China think twice.
    A third of Russia’s companies want to file for bankruptcy.

    What else should Duterte’s geopolitical advisers should watch?

  8. Look at what’s happening to ChinaTel investments. Tsismis in the grapevine says Uy is no longer being lent money by the banks. I have a feeling that the UNCLOS declaration is the President trying to pressure ChinaTel on their investment promises. The same could be said about POGOS.

  9. karlgarcia says:

    While I am still at Dennis Uy.
    Here is Globe’s CEO telling us that China Telecom can never meet their targets.
    He even mocked their oromised internet speed.
    With one subscriber it will be really fast.(paraphrased)

  10. karlgarcia says:

    Re: Japan’s suspension of Aegis ashore missile defense.

    What will happen next?
    I hope Japan will reveal their plans soon enough.

  11. NHerrera says:


    Masks Are Great Again = MAGA

    When an Irresistible Force meets an Immovable Object, the IO yields to the IF.
    [There is a logical error here, but you may get my meaning — ref: developments from across the Pacific.]

    Methinks, the same “spirit” animates the current blog topic.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Since the irresistible force paradox is flawed there is no error.

      Speaking of Masks
      This news article makes no sense.
      They invite people who are COVID positive to attend parties?(like a dare to survival of the fittest)

      • NHerrera says:

        Tuscaloosa City Councilor Sonya McKinstry said students have been organizing “COVID parties” as a game to intentionally infect each other with the contagion.

        “They put money in a pot and they try to get COVID. Whoever gets COVID first gets the pot.”

        A form of Russian Roulette Game. Crazy.

        Trump who by his statements and actions contributed immensely to the deaths of tens of thousands of US covid-19 deaths can’t be beaten in the behavior. So in relative terms the students may not be as crazy after all.

        • sonny says:

          Following the news: seems in all sectors of society there is a clear division of the house – those who care little (no social distancing, no masks) and those that care a lot (wear masks, maintain social distancing, follow quarantine common sense) and points in-between. The anarchists are ready to ride on either wave. All vectors possible!

          • NHerrera says:

            Yes anarchists of differing stripes — rats of all sorts lead by or represented by Pied Pipers galore. But there is one with a magical way who is followed by rats who with his magical music goes with him all the way to the cliff’s edge. Quite a few of whom know the score but follow nevertheless out of fear from going against the music of that Piper. Local Version here too.

            But let us get out of the figure of speech. Who could have foretold in Mid-2019 that we will have this coronavirus pandemic. A game changer –influencing not only health but other activities and concepts — for many countries and their people, not the least your adopted country.

            Extending the figure of speech: with a political demise (?) of the Pied Piper who will do a Sergei Nikitich Khrushchev when the time comes?

        • karlgarcia says:

          Russian Roulette with all chambers loaded.
          I say they invite COVID positive because I am sure that is included in their crazy dare.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Back to the irrestible force paradox.
      China seems to be against everyone.
      Now it is a territorial dispute with Russia.
      Link to follow.

  12. karlgarcia says:

    Lorenzana says the Chinese drills are provocative.
    If really provoked what’s the plan?

  13. karlgarcia says:

    Terror bill signed into law.

    • karlgarcia says:

      I am terrorized so it is a terror bill not an anti-terror bill.

        • kasambahay says:

          kaming mga cebuanos, matitigas ang ulo, duterte himself admitted. terror bill will only make us find another way and off kami, haring again, creative pa rin, lol! lol! lol! we laugh not because it’s funny, warning laughter yan sa kabisayaan.

          duterte must be kidding, signing terror law. we are already at the bottom and now, we’ll dig sideways laterally. he was warned aplenty though. with terror law, there will be increases in riding in tandem and killers for hire, swifter justice methink.

          who could be bothered interrogating suspect for 24days, feed them, house them, health check them, and at the same time hoping for confession? which interrogator has the patience of the biblical job? I can imagine the endless paperwork, the countless taped interviews, the cups of coffee, etc. if the suspect wont go mad, the interrogator will, lol! lol! lol!

          • karlgarcia says:

            15k senior citizens released recently.
            This is not funny but the 15 k released will be replenished soon enough.

            24 days?
            This is prone to 24 days of torture.
            The ones already inside the prison are luckier or safer.

            • kasambahay says:

              24 days held without warrant, on the 25th day if no confession and no evidence found of wrongdoing, the suspect will be freed is what I think.

              4 days of interrogation kaya ng most suspects yan, the human mind is sharpest at the 1st 4 days of detention. after that, the mind adapts and things become routine. even pain becomes routine, abuse becomes routine, and both overcome: tougher criminals are bred in detention.

              and if suspect is innocent but wrongfully and unnecessarily detained, kapolisan can be sued.

              • karlgarcia says:

                The Anti-Terror law complaint is in the SC except is in electronic.
                Physical filing on Monday.

                Meanwhile Esperon says the law needs an IRR and there would be congressional oversight says General obvious.

      • madlanglupa says:

        This was eventually going to happen. I mean, I already sanitized what I had when RRD was clearly going to win and was expecting him to impose strong police measures anytime he feels like doing it.

        • karlgarcia says:

          I know you are one who said you would rather stay here and fight the good fight, but if people can leave once COVID is just part of our memory, I think they would like HK citizens that would take PM Johnson’s citizenship offer.

  14. karlgarcia says:

    The headline fits a suitor courting someone.
    Even if he says he is not asking a favor, what is he doing then reminding them of their increased salaries, needed medicine, etc?

    If it is part of the job then why rub it in?

    • kasambahay says:

      duterte also said the same yata to kapolisan, mostly reminding them of how heavily invested he is in thier welfare. it’s clear to me po duterte is trying to stop a bloodbath between kapolisan and military.

      • karlgarcia says:

        He tells them both that killing wont bring back lives yet he keeps on ordering to kill which later his spokesmen will downplay.

        • kasambahay says:

          as commander in chief, what duterte really needs to emphasize and point out to both kapolisan and militay is where kapolisan’s role ends and where that of the military starts. or these two will keep on clashing and having skirmishes with resulting loss of lives.

          speaking about taking of high value target, who will get the precedence, kapolisan o military? pareho pa naman silang may intel and if both go after the same target at the same time, e may shoot out na naman uli sila.

          methink kapolisan wont concede so easily, lalo na kapag nasa jurisdiction nila ang target. mapapahiya sila ng todo kapag military just walk over and apprehend the suspect. it would make kapolisan look bad.

          with advent of terror law where suspects can now be apprehended without warrant for 24 days, duterte gotta solve this overlapping o agawan ng teritoryo soonest, or more of his men’s lives will be lost.

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