HOUSE-TO-HOUSE. Bicol Mail editor-in-chief (on leave) Joe Perez makes personal visits and consultation with ordinary folks in Sitio Spokoi, an urban village along the Bicol River in Brgy. Sabang, Naga City as a future public servant gunning for a seat in the city council. He is shown in this photo being accompanied by supportive P/Capt. Romeo ‘Jojo’ Perez, a bemedalled retired police officer and relative of the former.
There have been two remakes of the movie “The Manchurian Candidate.” The movie plot was to install a communist or communist sympathizer as president of the United States of America. During the campaign the candidate kept attacking the Soviet Union (now Russia) for show to give the impression that the right winger was absolutely anti-communist. In the original movie, it was the candidate’s wife who was the spy and bridge to the Soviets.
That was the movie. At the time, Americans were entertained by the drama but cynically dismissed it as unreal. Nowadays with Donald Trump at the Oval Office, Americans are beginning to suspect that we might have a Manchurian president in Washington who happened to be married to women who came from communist countries that were part of the U.S.S.R.: Ivana Trump was the first wife (1977) and was from Czechoslovakia. The third and current wife is Melania Trump (2005), a former Slovenian (Yugoslavia) citizen.
Donald Trump’s business connections with Russia goes back to 2003 when his companies went bankrupt and U.S. banks did not want to do business with him. His comeback was connected to foreign money (mostly from Russian oligarchs). He is currently under multiple investigations involving his business empire and his ascension to the presidency. The final verdict on this will come after the Special Counsel Robert Mueller is finished with this investigations.
Mueller’s investigations stems from Russian inference in 2016 presidential election where Trump narrowly beaten Hillary Clinton. There was unanimous verdict from U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia under President Vladimir Putin interfered to help Trump win. During the campaign, Trump openly talked about making friends with Russia and even encouraged the Russians to help his campaign find the missing Hillary emails. The Mueller investigation is looking at whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to effect the outcome of the election. During the Republican Convention, Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort successfully lobbied the Republican National Committee to soften the party’s platform by removing the part about arming Ukraine with lethal weapons.
Trump has been doing exactly what a Manchurian president was expected to do: follow the dictates of his master and Trump has not been a disappointment to Russia. To test Trump’s loyalty, Putin asked Trump to accommodate his Washington ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in 2017. Trump did the unprecedented thing of welcoming both in the Oval Office while excluding any of his officials there with the exception of a Russian journalist. It was reported that in said meeting, Trump shared highly classified information to the Russian officials. The rest of America saw a picture of the meeting with the three laughing courtesy of the Russian photographer.
Then Trump followed it with disrupting the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO) in various ways: pulling out of the climate treaty, asking NATO members to pay up for the security umbrella the United States was providing to Europe, then imposing trade tariffs on Western allied nations like Canada, Japan, and Mexico. When Trump met with Putin at Helsinki, Finland none of his senior officials where in the room when he met one on one with Putin. Consequently, there was nothing Trump could report to the country except that Putin denied interfering with the US 2016 election and that he believed him. Foreign Minister Lagrov had a lot more to say about agreements Putin and Trump formalized with a handshake.
When Syria gassed its own people in 2018, the US pinpointed the source of the Syrian airport where the aircraft carrying the chemical weapon took off from. Trump ordered a military strike of the said airport but warned the Russian mercenaries and advisers to leave the area and thus, there was no casualty except for a big whole on the runway and a couple of MIG jets destroyed in a bunker.
Trump had two other short meetings with Putin just by himself (Buenos Aires) or with an interpreter (Europe) but whose notes he confiscated. Shortly thereafter the Buenos Aires November 2018 meeting, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the lifting of sanctions against Putin’s favorite Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska is one of the targets of Special Counsel Robert Mueller due to his ties to Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager who is now serving time due to Mueller’s indictments.
Despite contradictions from his intelligence agencies on Russia, North Korea, Iran and Syria, Trump continues to belittle them. He is even contemplating of aborting the anti-ballistic missile treaty with Russia. He claims Russia is cheating but discarding the treaty means that Russia is free to explore more modern nuclear weaponry that is currently forbidden by the treaty. He is also meeting for the second summit with North Korea’s Kim Jung-on despite lack of progress on the promise of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. Trump does not even ask for a list of nuclear weapons or systems from Kim. All these actions point to a disturbing direction: making America and its allies in Europe weaker against Russia/China.
The other suspected Manchurian president is Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte beat Mar Roxas, his closest rival in the 2016 presidential election by over six million votes. For a guy whose main claim to fame is his stint as mayor of Davao, his electoral win was rather incredible. Many attribute his win to voters’ disenchantment with the status quo. I suspect that his win has to do with what Russia did to meddle in the US presidential election in 2016. There has been reports that the myriad fake news that flooded targeted areas in the US originated in the Philippines using Philippine technicians. Similar fake news were also circulated widely on Facebook in the Philippines that targeted opposition candidates particularly those from the Liberal Party. Just FYI, the Philippines has a large number of expat Russians in country and is visited by tens of thousands of Russian tourists every year. Don’t tell me none of these is a spy?
There has been testimonies in Philippine Congress of how votes in the 2016 election were manipulated. The impression was that the Aquino administration was in cahoots with Smartmatic officials to rig the election in favor of Roxas and Liberal Party candidates. Senate President Tito Sotto and an electoral fraud whistleblower Glenn Chiong who exposed weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the automated voting system were convinced that votes were manipulated using these vulnerabilities. One would think that he and the rest of Duterte’s administration was interested to find out the truth especially after COMELEC chair Andy Bautista resigned. Bautista, Aquino’s appointee already left the country and nobody is even trying to bring him back to answer allegations of electoral fraud.
Meanwhile, Duterte has been going after the US and has been chummy with Russia and China. Duterte has suspended joint military patrols and exercise with the US and even ordered buying weapons elsewhere than the US.
Both Trump and Duterte are right wingers who claim to be nationalists and lack the requisite smarts to run a country. Could they be Manchurian presidents doing the bidding for communist Russia/China?