Yasay on Duterte foreign policy: 'Wala namang confusing'
MANILA, Philippines – Blaming critics for always finding something "negative," Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr asserted that President Rodrigo Duterte has said nothing confusing as chief architect of Philippine foreign policy.
In an interview on Thursday, December 1, GMA News anchor Howie Severino asked Yasay how difficult it is to serve as foreign secretary given Duterte's controversial and confusing statements.
Yasay replied: "In my experience, hindi naman mahirap dahil sa aking pananaw, wala namang confusing sa mga sinasabi ng ating Pangulo as the chief architect of our foreign relations."
(In my experience, it is not difficult because in my view, there is nothing confusing about what our President says as chief architect of our foreign relations.)
The DFA chief admitted, however, that it is "challenging" as the Philippines tries to assert an independent foreign policy.
Later during the interview, Severino followed up on Yasay's point that there is nothing confusing about Duterte's statements.
The anchor cited Duterte's statement in China on October 20 that he cutting military and economic alliances with the US. The US later said Duterte's rhetoric has created a "climate of uncertainty about the Philippines' intentions." (READ: Why Duterte needs to act like a diplomat)
Yasay explained in a mix of English and Filipino: "I was there when the President said that. What he was saying was that he was going to separate from our military and economic dependence."
"He did not say he was going to separate from the United States militarily or economically. No," the DFA chief stressed.
Duterte's exact quote in China was, "I announce my separation from the United States, both in military but economics also."
Duterte did not explicitly say he was going to end the Philippines' "military and economic dependence" on the US.
Tough talk 'a very good ploy'
The President did, however, tell his Chinese audience that he will be "dependent" on them.
The President told the Chinese, "I am separated from them so I will be dependent on you for a long time."
In his interview with GMA News, Yasay blamed critics for the supposed confusion over Duterte's statements.
Yasay said: "That's not so much a problem of the President as it is a problem of the critics of the President. No matter what the President says, they will always have something negative. So I'm calling on the critics of the President to reassess and reevaluate their kind of approach to these things."
He continued: "The problem is really, as I see it, more on them than it is on the President. And I think if you would look at what the President has done, he has achieved breakthroughs and very substantial gains at this early stage."
The Philippines' top diplomat added that Duterte's tough talk, in fact, has been an advantage.
"To me it has been a very good ploy, it has been a very good strategy on the part of our President," Yasay said.
Yasay asked: Did other countries listen to the Philippines in the past "because of our courteousness"?
"No," Yasay said. "We have been taken for granted."
"But now you see because of these strong words, people are listening to us, people are no longer taking us for granted," he said. – Rappler.com