15 September 2016

Pres. Duterte Wants U.S. Out of South PHL Because ...

Rodrigo Duterte
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called last 12 September for the withdrawal of U.S. special forces troops from a group of islands in the southern Philippines, saying their presence could complicate offensives against Islamist militants notorious for beheading Westerners.

Duterte, who was in the spotlight a few days ago over a televised tirade against the United States and President Barack Obama, said the Americans still in Mindanao were high-value targets for the Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf militants as counter-insurgency operations intensify.

"They have to go," Duterte said in a speech during an oath-taking ceremony for new officials. "I do not want a rift with America. But they have to go."

He added: "Americans, they will really kill them, they will try to kidnap them to get ransom."

In a more diplomatic way, it means that Duterte wants to protect the Americans from any possible reactionary violence coming from extremist groups and Islamic fundamentalists. However, it could also also mean that Duterte is trying to get rid of any witnesses who has been critical against his policy of removing miscreants in society.

Obama has voiced out strong opinion against the Duterte administration ever since a rash of police-initiated killings and vigilante assassinations carried out against suspected drug dealers and users. Once Duterte starts his all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf militants, it is expected that Americans will again take a closer look at the human rights aspect of that war, which many Filipinos are not keen at all.

With a high approval rating of 85 percent, Duterte is planning to get rid of the extremist threat in the Southern Philippines the only way he knows without fearing any public outcry: brutal annihilation.

Unfortunately, many Americans still don't get it. Instead of protecting the rights of the victims, the Obama administration are still concerned about how to make sure that the terrorists are being treated as humanely as possible.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest emphasized shared concerns and interests with the Philippines, before taking a thinly veiled swipe at Duterte, appearing to compare him to Donald Trump, the outspoken Republican candidate in the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election.

"I think it’s an indication of how important elections are," Earnest told a regular news briefing."Elections have consequences. Elections do say a lot about what kind of person is going to represent your country on the international stage.

"And it’s why you are going to prize qualities like decorum and temperament and judgment in casting votes in elections, because you know that person is going to represent you on the international stage. That’s certainly something that the Filipino people are well aware of."