Cartoon by Roni Santiago

Many Filipino Americans (Fil-Ams) are understandably wary of President Duterte’s anti-U.S. statements and moves to forge strong relations with China.

These Fil-Ams, mostly members of the US Pinoys for Good Governance, benefited and continue to benefit from the alliance between the Philippines and the United States in many ways. First, as a result of the long years of Philippine-American partnership, they were able to immigrate to the US and are now enjoying a good life. US immigration policy gives preferential treatment to Filipinos, thereby allowing many of them to immigrate to America and pursue their American dream.

Another concern of the Fil-Ams is about the many other benefits that arise from the friendly Philippine-American relations. One such benefit is the US military aid regularly given to the Armed Forces of the Philippines. But with Duterte’s move to scrap US military assistance, it is now uncertain if the same help will still be made available. 

Another benefit at risk to be lost is the medical assistance extended to poor people in the Philippines by private volunteer organizations (PVOs) under the umbrella of the US Aid for International Development (USAID).

One such PVO is the World Medical Relief (WMR), which has been donating medicines and medical supplies and equipment to the Philippines. For the last 10 years, the cost of the donations was estimated at between $15 million and $20 million.

At present, several container vans of medicines, medical supplies and equipment are ready for shipment to hospitals in Mindanao. WMR is withholding the shipment due to the confusion caused by Duterte’s anti-US statements.      

One PVO executive aired his concern about the possible freeze of the medical aid programs, saying this could also adversely affect the medical missions conducted yearly by Filipino-American groups in the Philippines.

The same executive said the PVOs are withholding release of donations of medicines and medical supplies to Filipino American missioners while they wait for an instruction on the matter from the US government.

He said that usually, only nations friendly with the United States are beneficiaries of free medicines and medical supplies from PVOs. Because of the uncertainty caused by the recent snide remarks by Duterte against the U.S., the PVOs deem it prudent to withhold release of the donations.

Apparently, Duterte has taken an anti-U.S. stance in an effort to ingratiate himself with China. But will China be as helpful as the United States to the Philippines? Will China be able to give the benefits Filipinos are now receiving from the US? Will Filipinos want to immigrate to China to seek greener pasture?

From our standpoint, we see Duterte’s move as a big gamble, and as such, there is no assurance the Filipinos will win. We can even lose all our marbles.


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