Rodrigo Duterte displayed utter cowardice before China as he failed to defend Philippine sovereign interests amid widespread clamor to demand China’s culpability over the reported June 9 incident at Recto Bank, where a Chinese trawler rammed and abandoned a sinking fishing boat carrying 22 Filipino crew.
Instead, Duterte parroted China’s subterfuge by downplaying the incident as a “simple maritime accident.” He concealed the more prejudicial fact that a Chinese vessel was fishing in Philippine territorial waters.
The Recto Bank incident is evidence of China’s increasing aggressiveness in transgressing and plundering Philippine maritime territory. Such impunity is a consequence of the Duterte regime’s slavishness and complete failure to uphold Philippine sovereign rights and laws.
Duterte is spineless because he is paid by China. He fears losing millions of dollars of bribe money and other favors he and his cohorts are receiving from the state monopoly capitalists of China in exchange for onerous and odious loans.
At the same time, Duterte is silent and meek amid US noise and threats of military intervention. The US took advantage of the incident at Recto Bank and declared that the incident may “trigger” the provision of the Mutual Defense Treaty. Following this, the US announced its plans of deploying the USS Stratton, a US Coast Guard cutter, purportedly to protect Philippine territory. The US raises threats of armed confrontation or war with China using the Philippines as its launching pad.
Aside from military facilites put up by the US in various parts of the Philippines, it has also maintained military presence along the western coasts of the Philippines with the aim of projecting its power along the South China Sea trade routes.