Trump state secretary pick all business; clueless on Duterte, statesmanship | Inquirer
 
 
 
 
 
 
Emil Amok!

Trump state secretary pick all business; clueless on Duterte, statesmanship

/ 01:49 AM January 13, 2017

Trump nominee for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

Trump nominee for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The Philippines came up in the Senate confirmation hearings of President-elect Trump’s nominee for secretary of state. And frankly, Rex Tillerson sounded more like a CEO than a diplomat.

Especially when the questioning came to RP leader Rod Dee-Dee, the fentanyl-using leader of our favorite archipelago.

Sen. Marco Rubio, who was embarrassed by Trump in the campaign, probably has it out for Tillerson.

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Rubio asked tough questions on economic sanctions, especially those against Russia, to which the first thing Tillerson said is how sanctions hurt American business.

Wrong answer.

But then he’s a global business leader beholden to shareholders, not to the American people. That’s why he’s profoundly unqualified. His instincts are all wrong.

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Tillerson couldn’t even get it right on Russia’s war crimes. His hesitancy to strongly denounce Russia may be partly because Tillerson is a Putin buddy who received Russia’s highest civilian honor.

But it was in the afternoon questioning when Duterte came up, specifically on human rights violations. It should have been a softball.

Sen. Marco Rubio: “Since President Rodrigo Duterte took office last June, the Los Angeles Times reports that roughly, over 6,200 people have been killed in the Philippines by police and vigilantes in alleged drug raids. In your view is this the right way to conduct an anti-drug campaign?”

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The correct answer would be NO. But Tillerson took another route.

 

Rex Tillerson: Senator, the U.S., the people of the Philippines have had a long-standing friendship. And I think it’s important we keep that in perspective in engaging with the government of the Philippines, that longstanding friendship. And they have been an ally and we need to ensure they stay an ally.

Rubio:That’s correct, Mr. Tillerson, but my question is about 6,200 people killed in these alleged drug raids. Do you believe that is an appropriate way to conduct that operation? Or do you believe that it is something that’s conducive to human rights violations that we should be concerned about and condemning?

Tllerson: Senator, confirmed again. It’s an area I’d want to understand in greater detail in terms of facts on the ground.

I’m not disputing anything you’re saying because I know you have access to information that I do not have.

Rubio: This is the Los Angeles Times.

Tillerson: Again I’m not going to rely on something I read in the newspapers. I will go to the facts on the ground. I’m sure there’s credible information available from various government agencies.

Rubio: One of the sources for that number and the campaign and its nature is President Duterte himself, who openly brags about the people who are being shot and killed on the streets, who he has determined are drug dealers without any trial. If in fact he continues to brag about it, would that be reliable information that you would look at and say, it’s happening. What’s happening in the Philippines is not an intelligence issue, it’s openly reported in multiple press accounts. The president-elect has spoken about it and quite frankly the president of the Philippines has admitted to it and brags about it.

So I guess, the question is, is that the appropriate way to act and should it influence our relationship with the Philippines?

Tillerson: If the facts are in fact supported of those numbers and those actions, then I don’t think any of us would accept that as a proper way to deal with offenders, no matter how egregious offenders may be.

That’s a long way to get to the obvious correct answer.

But this is one of the reasons why private-sector Rex Tillerson should have no business doing public business. He’s so much about business, that’s what he sees first.

Public service shouldn’t be seen as an enhancement for future business deals.

Most of what secretaries of state are asked to do involves delicate world problems that go way beyond dollars and cents.

The best thing Tillerson has going for him is he is a consummate Boy Scout. So maybe he’ll be prepared.

Until recently he was Exxon’s CEO; so you know he’s well-drilled for profit and a bottom-line shareholder value.

But a secretary of state is more than just chief bean counter. He’s the guy who represents American principles and values in matters of war and peace around the world.

And shouldn’t he have a little more backbone to stand up to Rodrigo Duterte?

Emil Guillermo is a veteran journalist and commentator. Tweet him at https://www.twitter.com/emilamok

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TAGS: Donald Trump, extrajudicial killings, human rights, Rex Tillerson, Rodrigo Duterte, Sen. Marco Rubio
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