US officials continue to dial up the rhetoric over Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, after he reported earlier last week his intention to “separate” from the United States and see the Philippines shift to a closer diplomatic and economic relationship with China.
Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel today warned Duterte was creating a “climate of uncertainty” and insisted there was growing “international concern” over his government. He added that the comments were “not a positive trend” in relations.
Indeed there is international concern about Duterte’s government and its use of summary executions against drug dealers and addicts. Yet the US “concern” over this appeared non-existent until Duterte suggested US-Philippines relations might be less slavish than they’ve historically been.
It appears to be working as Duterte, who is heading to Japan next, backed even further off those comments about separation today, insisting now that nothing is really going to be changed and that no one should worry that the Philippines’ alliances are going to shift.