Fil-Am community leader weighs in on Tillerson’s meeting with Manalo
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with ASEAN leaders in Washington DC yesterday, including representatives from the Philippines, but the meeting has some kababayans wondering if right now is a bad time to strengthen relations between the two countries.
Amid concerns that President Obama’s “Pivot to Asia” has been abandoned, in favor of President Trump’s “America First” policy, Tillerson met with ASEAN leaders, including acting Philippine Secretary of State Enrique Manalo.
The meeting came a few days after Trump’s phone calls to ASEAN leaders including Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We are hopeful that acting SEC Enrique Manalo will have enough influence on the Philippine president, especially in last week’s invitation for President Duterte to visit the White House,” said Fil-Am community leader Eric Lachica. “Secretary Manalo we are hoping would engage the Filipino-American community leadership, to prepare an agenda; that would be good for both the Filipino and American people.”
Tillerson urged Southeast Asian foreign ministers to minimize diplomatic ties with North Korea, and to help to cut funding for its nuclear and missile program.
“We are preparing additional sanctions if it turns out North Korea’s actions warrant additional sanctions,” said Tillerson. “We’re hopeful that the regime in North Korea will think about this.”
The meeting with ASEAN leaders came a day after Tillerson met with department of state employees, as the US prepares new sanctions for North Korea.
Lachica believes it’s a bad idea for Trump to carry favor with President Duterte.
“Parang desperate na desperate si Trump to curry favor with Duterte at the expense of the america’s reputation,” he said. “Parang humihingi ng tulong si Trump kay Duterte, it shows kind of a weak hand in poker in political terms, because you showed na parang weak trying to ingratiate yourself with third world country president to put leverage. Whatever leverage Duterte has with his Chinese patrons, parang mahina, parang labas niyan si trup pala mahina pal eh, hindi pa makadiretso kay xi jin ping.”
It’s Tillerson’s first meeting with the 10 member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
The US State Secretary also called on nations with territorial disputes in the South China Sea to temporarily stop all island building and militarization, while talks are underway.
Lachica says it’s also probably not the right time for Duterte to visit the US.
“This time he should not come, because it will create more complications for President Trump and the Republican leaders who are questioning the sanity of the Philippine president,” he said.
Tillerson also said that the US would de-emphasize human rights concerns in some of its dealings with other countries, possibly the Philippines, to adapt to the changing times.