After his successful Russian engagement with President Vladimir Putin, Western media, apparently getting feeds from their nervous governments, now accuse President Rody Duterte of warmongering by pitting “Russia against China, and both nations against the US.”
According to London’s Daily Express, the aim of Rody “is to attempt to gain a foothold in the region, while also securing trade deals.”
Quoting an Asian analyst, the paper said from Duterte’s perspective, “If the US is serious about the South China Sea, it should have clearly responded with military might when China started building those artificial islands.”
“Since it did not, Duterte views a relationship with China as more to the Philippines’ advantage,” it said.
The article added that China has also been building upon its influence in the region, through its economic and diplomatic efforts and Rody’s change in tactic reveals that.
The queasiness among the country’s traditional partners, nonetheless, are more about the commercial rather than the strategic implication of closer ties between both countries.
The Philippines is becoming a key market for defense contractors because of its fast-developing economy and the intent of the government to modernize military capabilities.
A growing economy also means more purchasing power for the largely inadequate domestic air travel industry.
American bimonthly National Interest centered on negotiations of local groups for Russian equipment in its report on Rody’s visit, particularly the negotiations for Russian jets that could be used for tourism or disaster relief. Russia is offering Sukhoi, Be-200 and MS-21 aircraft, according to the report.
The report cited the assessment of trade officials that the start for Russian companies’ inroads to the country would be in general aviation rather than major commercial deals as the two flag carriers, Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific, right now use more aircraft from European maker Airbus and the American brand Boeing.
General aviation is more open to other brands since charter flights are increasing with the numerous islands that comprise the Philippines.
Prior to Rody, the two Western aircraft manufacturers were secured about their projections on the growing travel market in the country.
National Interest also noted that a minor commercial aviation deal landed “in the defense section of Sputnik News, which hints that the Russian government — and cash-strapped Russian aircraft manufacturers — may be hoping to score some military contracts.”
That is another source of worry for American and European suppliers who, in the same manner as the Russians, are looking at Asia for the bulk of its future military sales with the region having the most dynamic economies in the world.
Right now, the Philippines is among the region’s rapid advancers, chalking up consistent growth rates of six percent or more a year against the rest of world’s average of about two percent.
The Westerners who were just recently smugly battering Rody to toe their line in his style of governance are now unsettled in the prospects of Russia’s presence in the strategic sea lane, which is the subject of dispute between China and its smaller Asian neighbors including the Philippines.
The American magazine noted that in March 2019, Russian and Philippine officials met to discuss a potential naval pact.
“In April, two Russian warships docked in Manila. The port visit included joint drills on navigation and communication as well as special trainings with the quick response forces of the Philippines,” it added.
It raised the prospect of “Russian bombers based on Philippines airfields, ranging far over the Pacific to give the United States nightmares.”
“That prospect is distant at best and dim at worst. But it is not unheard of for nations to switch partners,” it said.
Rody had long noted that the Westerners treat the Philippines as trash and that the country only gets crumbs in exchange for total subservience, which was still the case in the previous administration.
To their chagrin, the Europeans and the Americans are convinced that all of that has now changed.