Pinoys in Bern need more explaining on foreign policy shift

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BERN, Switzerland  (MindaNews/26 October)  — Filipinos working in this Swiss capital say they still need more explanations on government’s recent shift in foreign policy.

The Filipinos admitted they were also startled by President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement in last week’s state visit to China to shift economic and political alignment from the United States to China.

Romel Regino, a native of Mindoro, said he does not foresee improvements in the Philippine economy by dealing with China.

“Yung shifting ba natin sa China, may mababago ba? Ang pagbabago hindi dahil sa  kung saan tayo nakakapit, kundi dun sa mga namumuno. Yan ang contributor sa walang pagbabago, yang corruption ng mga namumuno, “ said Regino.

He said he doubts China’s economic intentions in the Philippines, more so because the Philippines had recently won its case over the disputed south China sea. “Pinapaboran lang tayo ng China kasi meron silang intention sa atin,” said Regino, who works at the embassy of an ASEAN member-country here.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with “10” being “most trusted,” Regino gave China a “1”, citing “unfair” trade agreements China has made with European countries.  “Halimbawa, sa sampung container na puno na galing ng China, isang container lang ang pinapapasok sa China, kaya hindi sila fair,”  he said.

Ritchie Tia from Leyte also gave China a “1” on the trust scale. “Walang negosyong gustong matalo, siyempre may kapalit ang mga yan. Yang investments, utang pa rin yan. Paano ka lalabas dyan, pag nakabaon ka na?” said Tia.

Boyet Labaya, a native of Baguio, meanwhile said that while he is not against breaking off economic ties with the U.S., he fears the repercussions of that move.  “Maraming maging apektado sa US, kasi matagal na tayong allies, “ said Labaya, who works as service staff in a local hospital.

He also decried the swiftness of this policy shift, made while the President was on a state visit to China. “Sa ating foreign policy, kelangan ng time bago siya magdesisyon ng ganyan. Hindi pwedeng sasabihin mo hora mismo, ayoko na sa mga Kano. Nakakagulat.  At para sa akin, masyadong maaga yung pag-pivot sa China,” added Labaya.

Wilson Ferrer from Pangasinan, an embassy worker here, also gave China a “1” as future trading partner. “Yung mga binibenta nila maraming peke at maraming smuggled,” he said.

He said he does not understand why the Philippines will open up to more trade with China which has border conflicts with the Philippines. “Malaking problema sa atin ang China, inaaway nga siya dahil pagawaan daw ng droga gaya ng shabu,” said Ferrer.

Other Filipinos, however, approved of more economic ties with China.   Antonio Lusotan, a restaurant worker from Agusan del Norte, said: “Wala na tayong makukuha sa US. Sila ang nakakuha sa atin. Wala ibang intensiyon ang US kundi sa giyera, nagkakapera sila dahil sa giyera, dahil sa gulo,” said Lusotan.

He gave an “8” to China as a trade partner, saying the Asian giant was rated “high” among its numerous trading partners. “Umuunlad kasi yung mga bansa kun saan pumapasok siya (China),” said Lusotan.  (Brady Eviota of Surigao City wrote for the defunct Media Mindanao News Service and later joined SunStar in Cagayan de Oro City. He moved to Bern with his family in 2006).

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