26April2017

Home Editorial President Duterte’s domestic and foreign policy

President Duterte’s domestic and foreign policy

COMMENTARY, 07.04.2017

President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte has strong support from the people when he won the presidential election  last year. In December last year, Duterte obtained 83-percent support. But a poll from an agency published on Wednesday (5/4), showed a decrease of 7 percent. Now,it was just 76 percent of Filipinos who still support Duterte.

In the government’s performance, there is also a decrease of 5 percent from 83 percent saying that they were satisfied at the end of last year. The poll was conducted in mid last month andresponded by a lawmaker, Gary Alejano who proposed impeachment. Gary said that PresidentDuterte violated the law, and committed bribery and corruption. Duterte’s action in the fightagainst drugs is considered betraying the public trust because as a result, thousands of people die. President Duterte was also considered not to report his savings. However, it seems that the impeachment proposal may not continue. Because, the Philippines parliament is occupied by the majority of President Dutarte’s allies.

In addition to facing political crisis, President Duterte also faces disturbance from communist rebels and Muslim militants. To the communist rebels, President Duterte has tried to achieve a permanent ceasefire. The Philippine government and communist rebels met in the Netherlandslast month.

In the country, President Rodrigo Duterte is under pressure. In a policy maneuver, he sent military forces to an uninhabited island in the South China Sea region. Although he might provoke China which claims almost all the region, President Duterte continued his actions. To reporters at the military camp on the island of Palawan, which is not so far from the disputed Spratly islands,President Duterte said that he would like to occupy the empty island. The move is intended to increase the military presence in the Philippines in a number of atolls claimed by Manila.

Initially, President Duterte tried to have a good non-confrontation with the People’s Republic of China -PRC for the settlement of the South China Sea dispute. Possibly, President Duterte’sapproach does not work well; now he changes his mind by deploying his military forces in the disputed region.

Such an approach taken by President Duterte to claim the region is legitimate enough. But, there is risk of an open confrontation with PRC. Another risk is the Code of Conduct that has been painstakingly undertaken by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations –ASEAN. This  can be a new problem. Because, PRT is not satisfied with the action taken by the Philippines. Although the regional dispute becomes the bilateral issue between the Philippines and China, Indonesia can play a major role in ASEAN to remind the conflicting parties to prioritize negotiations instead ofconfrontation.

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