Will Duterte support Trump’s candidacy?

The intelligence community of the United States of America issued statements that countries like Iran. China and Russia are positioning themselves in the candidacies of reelectionist President Donald Trump of the Republican Party and former Vice President Joe Biden of the Democratic Party. Recently, groups in Canada are also starting to campaign against Trump as the latter imposed a 10% tariff on the aluminum products of the land of the maple leaf. Given these political alignments, will the Philippines also join the fray and support one of the two contending candidates?

Like Canada, both China and Iran have axes to grind against Trump. The assassination of Iran’s top security and intelligence commander, Qassem Soleimani early this year, was ordered by Trump. The US under the Trump Presidency has also exerted “maximum pressure,” through sanctions and isolation, to force new concessions from Tehran, and brought America to the brink of war with the Middle Eastern country — an act that at least four US Presidents tried to avoid.

China’s stand against Trump is also widely publicized as the Asian giant had been engaged in trade and technology wars with the US in addition to the war for power in South China Sea. Trump had been fueling these wars by accusing China of currency manipulation and of bringing Coronavirus to the US.

Russia, on the other hand, had been denigrating Biden and the Democrats being anti-Russian. According to US intelligence officials, Biden had been noted for “his role in the Obama Administration’s policies on Ukraine and its support for the anti-Putin opposition inside Russia”.

Other countries are not ready yet to throw their hats off to the US presidential wannabes but a number of officials, mostly from European and Middle Eastern countries, have expressed dissatisfaction and dismay against Trump for being “unpredictable” while Latinos lambasted him for building the wall that separates North and South America.

In the Philippines, meanwhile, national officials particularly President Rodrigo Duterte are also silent on the US presidential race. While Duterte claims to be close to Trump, he could not openly support the re-electionist President due to the Philippines friendly relations with China. On the other hand, the Trump administration was also instrumental to the banning of people (mostly Duterte’s allies) that are allegedly linked to the incarceration of Philippine Senator Leila de Lima. The ban is expected to intensify once Biden wins. But then again, Duterte and company cannot open their mouth against the former Vice President because that means supporting Trump and, further, that means angering China and Xi Jin Ping.

Given this dilemma, Duterte zipping his mouth is therefore the most logical solution to avoid problems. Apart from the fact that the Philippine President has a lot of things to use his mouth and colorful words to, expressing position to and aligning with US Presidential candidates could serve as a boomerang against the very officials that lambasted Northern America of “meddling in the Philippines’ domestic affairs”. Hence, the sound of silence could be the best option after all.

But, mind you, many in the Duterte’s circles are already dying to open their mouth. As to how long will they control themselves, we do not know.

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