STRIKE HOME| Respect for others

LAST week, President Rodrigo R. Duterte did the unthinkable when he willed MNLF chair Nur Misuari to appear in Malacanang itself “bearing the olive branch of peace”in a manner of saying.

How was this possible? Not a few colleagues from Manila and Baguio City asked by text and e-mail.

The answer seemed obvious: there is mutual respect and trust between the 71-year old Duterte and the 77-year old Misuari.

Misuari himself said so: “The President is a man whom I respect and trust.”

The feeling seemed mutual since Duterte has gone out of his way to meet Misuari twice previously in Davao City. It was an element that was absent during the term of President Benigno Aquino III. In fact, it was during PNoy’s term that Misuari got into trouble after he was excluded out of the Manila-brokered Bangsa Moro basic law discussions. In short, he was dis-respected.

This led to the MNLF siege of Zamboanga in 2013 that claimed more than 200 lives and netted Misuari pending charges in court in the process.

With him now as part of the peace process, the complexion of the game has become more wide-ranging, and assuming this government also brings the various Indigenous Peoples into the negotiating table, the prospects for an inclusive peace would certainly be achieved in the twilight years of Misuari and Duterte.

Leaving out the IPs from the negotiating table, however, would only reinforce their claims that the so-called peace process involves only armed groups; and that they were being dis-respected.

In my opinion, it is also mutual respect between the Duterte administration and its China counterpart that paved the way for the return of Filipino fishermen to the Scarborough Shoal.

There was no sabre-rattling or a show of force which the Philippine government cannot afford anyway, just mutual talks on business opportunities. That move by China’s navy to lift its blockade of the shoal came probably naturally even without both sides alluding to it.

Again, it was mutual respect between Japan and the Philippines that heralded Duterte’s fruitful visit to Japan. In the end, even Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shown clenching his fist in typical Duterte fashion to highlight the friendly and brotherly atmosphere that characterized his meeting with Duterte.

The result was something unprecedented: as a result of this visit, the Philippine coast guard is getting a total of 27 boats from Japan to boost its security and border patrol capabilities.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the boats will be used to run after narco-traffickers, smugglers and the Abu Sayaff.

In addition, the Philippines is getting from Japan two patrol ships worth P6.8 billion.

On the other hand, it is hard to discern if there is mutual respect between the Philippines and the United States despite the ‘iron-clad relations’ that have linked them for the past 100 years.

Duterte’s graphic description of the United States treating the Philippines as a dog on leash is one for the ages!

This is not only lack of respect but a low regard for one sovereign nation by another.

But if you think Duterte is alone, read this excerpt from an editorial of the state-owned China Daily:

‘Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said larger countries should treat smaller countries fairly.

And this includes former colonial powers. It is not for them to lecture countries they once exploited on how to conduct their own internal affairs today.”

Well-said by both leaders. (JKL)

Posted in Opinion