LAST month, President Duterte said outright: America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) planned to assassinate him. He didn’t give any reason why the CIA would want to do so, but not a few analysts think it is because of his getting close to Russia, the US’ arch-enemy even after the Cold War ended in the 1990s.
Indeed, the US even recently warned Duterte not to buy submarines that the Russians were offering.
My opinion though is this: If there’s any reason why the US would want Duterte toppled, it is his independent foreign policy stance over the South China Sea territorial dispute, and his refusal to make the country, as the past administration slavishly was, the US proxy to oppose Chinese claims in the area.
More than ever, the US desperately needs a puppet like President Aquino in the South China Sea, to try to stop China’s emerging hegemony in the area, even if only as its de facto spokesman. But Duterte has adamantly refused to do so, even defiantly drawing the country closer to the most powerful claimant in the area, the People’s Republic of China.
The only way for the US to have its lackey would be to topple Duterte and replace him with Vice President Leonor Robredo, who is together with her Yellow forces so subserviently pro-American in ideology and in practice.
In the US strategy, Duterte has to be removed now, to reduce the chances of his anointed, with a stance just like him, succeeding him in the 2022 presidential elections.
The all-out campaign by the US through its most influential media such as the New York Times, and through local media outlets funded by American foundations, namely Rappler, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, and Vera Files is not due to its noble crusade to protect human rights all over the world.
Not a puppet
It is because Duterte has refused to be the US puppet, and it has become critical at this time for it to have such a lackey because it is fast losing its hegemony in the South China Sea — the body of water around which China and most of Southeast Asia are.
Underestimated has been the gradual demise of America’s status as the superpower in Asia since after World War 2, and the rise of China — both as an economic and military power — in the region in the new century.
Whether we want it or not, China has become the legitimate superpower in the area, because it is in Asia and the only superpower with territorial and sea claims in the South China Sea among the claimants, namely Brunei, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.