Speaking in Cebu, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte suggested that a number of nations are likely listening in on his phone calls and that as a result he may switch to a more old fashioned mobile phone rather than use a more easily tapped smartphone. Duterte stated,
“I know, the US is listening. I’m sure it’s the CIA. It’s also the one who will kill me”.
Duterte also stated that along with the US, Israel, China, Russia and Indonesia were also likely listening in on his calls. Prior to this speech he suggested that if the CIA did in fact assassinate him, it would change little. Regarding this issue the Philippine President said,
“I was looking at the TV intently because I want to emphasise to the Americans. There were CIA agents now. Reports said they wanted me dead. Go ahead… be my guest… after all, this country will remain the way it is”.
These recent statements are indicative of Duterte’s masterful way of throwing his opponents by issuing statements that if taken literally are seemingly contradictory. By suggesting that nations which themselves have very different geopolitical alignments are all spying on him, he is keeping the wider world guessing as to which countries he believes are his most important partners and also which are his most dangerous rivals. Duterte’s statements further suggest that because of his foreign policy of neutral 21st century non-alignment, many nations that otherwise had little interest in the internal matters of The Philippines are now taking notice as the country looks to expand existing partnerships while consecrating many new ones.
Beyond this, while it is well known that the CIA has a negative position regarding Duterte’s reforms, by openly stating that his demise might be forthcoming, he has assigned plausible (in this case highly plausible) guilt in the minds of his countrymen and international observers so that if such an atrocity was attempted, many would be on guard against such an action and/or know who to blame in the event of a tragedy.
This contrasts sharply with the still unsolved murder of Ninoy Aquino who in spite of his wife and son leading the country as president, were still unable or perhaps unwilling to discover and/or disclose just who shot Ninoy. In this respect, the timing of Duterte’s remark is also highly significant as his statement was made less than 24 hours after the anniversary of Ninoy Aquino’s own mysterious assassination. In this sense, Duterte is taunting the Liberal party of the Aquino clan as they have not been able to determine who shot Ninoy with the benefit of thirty five years of hindsight, while Duterte has stated with foresight that determining a motive and ability to execute his assassination can be largely determined with foresight.
In this sense, Duterte has accomplished the following in a highly rational statement disguised as one derived from emotion:
–Duterte has heaped subtle shame on the inability of the Liberals to find and/or reveal Ninoy Aquino’s killers by indicating how obvious it is to determine such things even with foresight, let alone hindsight when one is being open and honest.
–Duterte has sent a message to several international partners that none of them are beyond suspicion and therefore The Philippines is clearly not subservient to any single one of these partners.
–Duterte has indicated that because of his foreign policy, the leader of The Philippines is now being carefully monitored by the three international superpowers and two other influential nations, thus indicating that his foreign policy has increased the geopolitical profile of The Philippines in a substantial manner.
–By sowing plausible guilt for a would be assassination, Duterte is encouraging the security services and his countrymen to be on the look out for those conducting their affairs in a suspicious manner.
Duterte has yet again proved that his off the cuff remarks in fact have a very wide reaching strategic meaning. Those who fail to realise this remain “trolled” by the Philippine President while those who understand the method beyond the “outbursts” understand the true political genius of Duterte.