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Dog on a leash

President Duterte says the US should not treat the Philippines like a dog on a leash, asking us to do this and that, presumably in exchange for her valuable aid.

Firing Line agrees. No country ever should.

This would explain why Duterte has maintained his “colorful language” on the people he despises, especially American officials, in defending his war on drugs.

Duterte even compared himself to Hitler and his massacre of millions of Jews by saying he would be happy in slaughtering the three million addicts in the Philippines. He would later apologize for the comparison but not for the course of action he has taken against illegal drugs.

The real shock came when the President announced in front of an audience in Beijing that he was breaking away from the US in foreign policy, and aligning with China.

What would then become of the victory we achieved against China on the issue of territorial dispute based on the decision of an arbitration court in Hague backed by the United Nations? Not only was our victory legal, but a big blow to China’s claims of ownership of the South China Sea which supposedly had no legal basis.

But Duterte’s sudden shift of support is an intense advancement to China’s campaign to emphasize her dominance over the region.

This brings us to question what would happen to the US rights to use five military bases in the Philippines? What would become of the Mutual Defense Treaty, Visiting Forces Agreement, and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement?

And what would happen to the sense of security being enjoyed by Filipinos in knowing that Americans would come to their defense in case of foreign invasion, especially from China?

What if China suddenly decides to assert its power again and reclaim Scarborough Shoal? What if she decides to tow away our old BRP Sierra Madre that has served as the Philippines’ outpost in guarding the Ayungin Reef from Chinese reclamation?

Imagine if China bans Filipinos from conducting oil and gas exploration at the Recto Bank, or declares the Benham Rise as part of her region? What if China declares an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) or a 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) covering the West Philippine Sea?

A lot of “what ifs” immediately come to mind among the majority of Filipinos who still doubt if China can really be trusted.

What would the President do if all these things were to happen?

And what would Duterte do if China suddenly treats us like a dog on a leash?

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at http://www.tempo.com.ph/category/opinion/firing-line/ (Robert B. Roque, Jr.)

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