Now critics have more things to say about the President.
So, President Duterte is now a US lackey? After having been hounded no end by the left and their fellow travelers as being stridently anti-US/EU and decidedly pro-China, President Duterte is now being harangued by the same group making a turn around and about to get in Uncle Sam's good graces. After being lambasted for his so-called rantings about the US and the West's colonial tendencies, now his latest moves are being touted as "doing the right thing" and an enlightened diplomatic move. What a difference some of the latest presidential initiatives, especially under pandemic, make.
The latest act involving the pardon granted US serviceman Joseph Scott Pemberton, who has been serving time for the killing of transgender Jennifer Laude, has been particularly grating to the critics, not only as the height of being a lackey but as an affront to the LGBTQ community and an insult to the poor, aging detainees who continue to languish in detention. What a laugh.
No doubt Laude's killing was truly condemnable and Pemberton had to suffer the consequences. That she was the family breadwinner made her death by Pemberton's hands even more unforgivable. And the court rightly said so. The guy was sentenced to a maximum of ten years and has been under detention at the AFP brig for the past six years. So, having served the minimum period of his sentence, his lawyers petitioned for his release. There should be nothing wrong with that as under our laws the same can apply to any prisoner, whether Filipino or foreigner, rich or poor.
Those who questioned the court's release order initially opined that Pemberton's release is premature arguing that his was a few months short of the minimum period. They even said the court had no business invoking "good conduct" under the GCTA law in the guy's case.
To end all arguments, President Duterte issued a pardon which made the critics froth in the mouth and throw all kinds of ad hominem against him, even questioning his sole prerogative to grant pardons. Imagine these guys, many of whom are lawyers, insisting that he should account for his use of that prerogative and for the sole purpose of freeing a foreign criminal like Pemberton. How subservient and pro-rich can he get, they asked.
It turns out some 160 prisoners some of whom rich, powerful and yes, aging, have been given pardons over the past four years. So, where's the discrimination there?
Anyway, this whole ruckus over the Pemberton pardon became the latest and certainly the most laughable example of what the critics have thrown against the President in their bid to support their claim that he has turned 180 degrees around and is now officially a US lackey.
They pointed to the about face on the junking of the VFA which he ordered late last year in response to continuing egging bordering on clear interference by some US senators on the matter of the detention of Senator Leila de Lima. That these same senators even went to the extent of filing a resolution urging the US State Department to impose sanctions on the country including the cancellation of the entry visas of some officials prompted that junking order. Its suspension sometime back has now become exhibit number one in the critics' "turnaround/US lackey" narrative.
Not content with that they have even injected some asides in the recent series of protests issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs over Chinese incursions including flybys in the West Philippine Sea. Even that verbal exchange between Secretary TeddyBoy Locsin and the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman was taken as part of the turnaround. So, bye bye China.
Well, these guys have to be told: the declared independent (friends to all, enemies to none) foreign policy which the administration invoked early on did not mean abandoning our long-standing relations with the US. We remained friends and as things stand will definitely continue to be so. But we cannot forever be tied like robots to the US' apron strings and be treated as just another state even of the world's most powerful nation.
To this administration's credit we reached out to other friends including the second-biggest world economy and emerging military power in our part of the world, China, even as we maintained our relations with the US and the West. What's wrong with that?
To accuse the President of being a lackey, whether to China or to the US, is to be silly and laughable.