THE resignation of former President Fidel V. Ramos as special envoy to China comes as no surprise. The real surprise is that it did not happen sooner; or that an alliance between the two men existed in the first place.
In his speeches, President Rodrigo Duterte has acknowledged the role that Ramos played in his election to the presidency. That Mr. Ramos supported Duterte—and even convinced him to run—seems to indicate the former chief executive did not do his due diligence before he picked his candidate. Perhaps Mr. Ramos was blinded by the prospect of picking a winner and wielding some influence in the next administration—but failed to see the ideological chasm that separated the two of them.
This is strange, given that Mr. Duterte has never made a secret of his leftist leanings, having been the student of Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison at the Lyceum of the Philippines, and having acknowledged his friendship with his former professor on several occasions before he became President.
This leftist streak has manifested itself recently in Mr. Duterte’s many anti-American tirades, and his vow to move the Philippines closer to China and Russia, which we imagine the West Point-trained Ramos would find abhorrent.
Mr. Ramos has made his objections known in a column that he writes for a national newspaper—suggesting that his words are no longer heard in the halls of power. After all, why make his case publicly if his advice were still being taken in the Palace?
Mr. Ramos has taken this route several times now, the first time to say that Team Philippines was losing after 100 days of the Duterte administration, because the President had focused on his bloody anti-crime campaign at the expense of creating jobs and other important national priorities.
Subsequently, he described President Duterte as the skipper of a leaking and sinking ship of state—hardly the public pronouncements of a trusted adviser in the President’s inner circle.
On the other hand, we do wonder, too, at Mr. Duterte’s decision to appoint Ramos as his special envoy to China in July, given the former President’s close connections, not only to the United States, but also to Taiwan, which China views as a renegade province that must one day be reunited with the mainland.
As special envoy to China, Mr. Ramos had visited China in August, but few details have emerged from that meeting. Sources suggest that Mr. Ramos advised the President to hold off on his state visit if the Chinese did not agree to certain conditions. The President instead canceled Ramos’ next scheduled meeting with the Chinese and went on his four-day state visit. Certainly, the implications of the President’s actions were not lost on Mr. Ramos, who must have felt slighted by the way his advice had been disregarded.
Against this backdrop, Mr. Ramos’ statement this week that he was resigning because his job of restoring good relations with China was done, and the Palace blather about how the former president is a statesman and still a valuable adviser, are just so many words to obscure the fact that the parting of ways was far from amicable.