Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004


@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

Written for The Diplomat magazine

There is an alleged plot to create political destabilization in the Philippines and remove President Rodrigo Duterte from power. No less than Duterte himself exposed the conspiracy and accused the Left of conniving with the ‘yellows’ in trying to oust him as president. The ‘yellows’ refer to the political forces, led by Liberal Party, which supported the previous government of President Benigno Simeon ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III.

Duterte’s statement was echoed by Solicitor General Jose Calida who revealed that his office is already preparing a case against those involved in subversive activities.

“Before, it was the Yellows. Then they changed the color to white, and now there are also reds coming in, and members of the clergy are also joining the fray,” Calida told the media.

The anti-Duterte plot may be a distraction but unless the government implements some major policy reforms that would reverse the rising discontent in the country, the alleged destabilization might cease to be a conspiracy and become a real threat.

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Duterte: America’s New ‘Humble Friend’

Written for The Diplomat magazine

“I am your humble friend in Southeast Asia,” said Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when the latter visited Manila on August 7, 2017, for a regional security forum. Duterte met Tillerson in the presidential palace.

Duterte’s statement can be confusing for those who can still remember his infamous speech declaring his “separation” from the U.S. during a state visit to China in 2016.

But for those who closely followed Duterte’s foreign policy pronouncements after the victory of US President Donald Trump last November, the Philippine president’s reassuring words of friendship wouldn’t be a surprise for them already.

Despite Duterte’s perceived anti-Americanism, he is actually turning into a reliable ally of the US military. In fact, the “humble friend of the U.S. in Southeast Asia” has stopped making any reference to his earlier commitment to pursuing an independent foreign policy.

Duterte’s close ties with the U.S. will be further boosted at the end of the year when Trump arrives in the Philippines for the East Asian summit.

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