The inauguration of Duterte


On June 30th, in Manila, Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte took office as president of the country. He will stay in this position for six years, until the next presidential election. Analysts attribute hope on the new president for an independent foreign policy of the country, reconciliation with communist rebels, and a merciless fight against corruption.

Uncomfortable President

The main issue of Duterte coming to power awaits the US. The new president intends to review in 2014 the Visiting Forces Agreement and of the Enlarged Agreement on defense cooperation signed in 2014, which gives the US the right to build new bases in the Philippines, increasing the length of stay of American troops and the withdrawal of US troop' jurisdiction in Philippine courts in the event of a crime being committed in the Philippines. Because of Duterte, Americans could lose an important ally in the Pacific Ocean.

Another reason for the US' concern is Duterte’s desire to improve relations with China. Under the previous pro-American president Benigno Aquino, Jr, the Philippines spoiled relations with China by supporting the US in the conflict in the South China Sea. Rodrigo Duterte intends to resolve the disputes with China through negotiations, or to forget about the Philippines’ claims to the part of the area in exchange for Chinese investment. Thus, the United States also has the risk of losing a key ally in the Western Pacific, which significantly alters the global balance of forces in favor of China.

Duterte has already promised to give offices in the new government of the Philippines to representatives of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the armed wing leading the guerrillas since the 1960’s in the Philippines jungle. He began the process of negotiations with the rebels. The Communists are bitterly anti-American, and they will strengthen the President's sovereigntist position.


Duterte is famous for the uncompromising struggle with the mafia in Davao, where he was a mayor. He has repeatedly said that he would, if necessary, become a dictator and will not take into account "human rights", while physically eliminating crime. Most likely, Washington, under the pretext of "human rights abuses”, will begin to use the leverage of financial and diplomatic pressure, and possibly sanctions, in order to bring the country back into its sphere of influence.