Posts Tagged ‘independent foreign policy’

Changing the narrative of Philippines-China ties

December 17, 2017

Manila Business Mirror

The relationship between the Philippines and the Asian Dragon, China, has taken a much different turn under the administration of President Duterte, in contrast to the diplomatic path his Palace predecessor had followed.

Jose Santiago Santa Romana, Philippine ambassador to China, emphasized that the Duterte administration has changed the narrative as far as the relations between Beijing and Manila are concerned.

Before June 2016, under former President Benigno S. Aquino III, Santa Romana said the prevailing narrative was both adversarial and confrontational. But not today.

“Right now, we are pursuing a nonconfrontational and nonadversarial approach based largely on an independent foreign policy. I think this is one of the reasons in the breakthrough in Philippine-China relations,” Santa Romana said in his keynote speech during the 30th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Association of Chinese Studies (PACS) at the Ortigas Center in Pasig City.

Santa Romana revealed that the Chinese media once had this perception that the Philippines wasn’t acting independently on its foreign-policy initiatives and interest, but moving according to the intent of another world superpower. The belief of the Chinese media, he said, was that the Philippine foreign policy was anchored on containment of Chinese influence, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

Pursuing an independent foreign policy is not a new road map for the Philippines. The move to form an independent foreign policy gained ground under the initiative of progressive Filipinos, led by the great nationalist Claro M. Recto in the 1950s.

“Recto’s nationalist, anti-imperialist campaign was launched during a most difficult period in Philippine history, a time when Cold War psychosis gripped the country, or at least its ruling elements,” Prof. Renato Constantino explained in his essay “Unity for Survival.”

The China pivot

When Duterte started to hurl invectives against former US President Barack Obama one after the other, Beijing was convinced that the Philippines under the present administration has taken a new perspective on China, and is not acting now based on the dictates of another power—obviously referring to Washington.

“The new perception was that the Philippines is no longer a part of a coalition against China, but [one that is] willing to be friendly with China,” Santa Romana, a former student leader from the De La Salle University during the turbulent First Quarter Storm in the late 1960s to the early 1970s, said.

He added the ties between the two countries were enhanced when Duterte visited China for the first time in October 2016. He again visited Beijing in May to attend the Belt and Road Initiative Summit. The two-day BRI event highlighted Chinese Premiere Xi Jinping’s major foreign-policy project that aims to revive the ancient Silk Road trading route through the building of infrastructure across Asia, Europe and Africa. Skeptics believe this is Beijing’s bid to boost its clout, both in trade and geopolitics. China, for its part, has been insisting that its objectives under the Silk Road initiative are for the benefit of the world.

By pivoting to China, Manila was given some goodwill, such as the recovery of the fishing access to the Scarborough Shoal. Furthermore, the Philippines was given access to several official development assistance funding for several local infrastructure projects.

Santa Romana said every administration has its own version of realpolitik, that every administration will take a different approach to issues, such as the territorial dispute with China. During the Aquino administration, the government opted for the legal and confrontational approach.

In 2016 the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague, the Netherlands, ruled  that the Philippines has the exclusive sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea (in the South China Sea), and that China’s “nine-dash line” is invalid.

However, China did not accept the ruling, and insisted it is still serious in solving the territorial problems with its neighbors.

‘Right approach’

Santa Romana said the approach in settling territorial disputes should be multidisciplinary. But this does not mean the country has to give up on international law, “but rather combine it with other approaches.”

“You have to combine law and diplomacy. The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy-Tufts University knows the importance of merging these two disciplines in settling disputes,” Santa Romana added.

As far as the Chinese are concerned, the bilateral approach is the best way to settle disputes. Through this, the border issues between China and Vietnam and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) were resolved. “Successful negotiations with China were based on bilateral approach with dialogues,” Santa Romana said.

The collapse of the USSR, he noted, was a big factor in Vietnam’s shift in its China policy. It took China two decades of negotiation to finally resolve issues and demarcate the lines of their borders.

Santa Romana recalled that there was a standstill before, as Chairman Mao Ze Dong and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev took a hard-line stance against each other. The winds of change came when Mao died and Mikhail Gorbachev took over the leadership in Moscow.

“Right now, it is through the bilateral approach that they will discuss the disputes,” he said. “Our experiences so far have shown discussions are better rather than an adversarial approach.”

Santa Romana added the key component is not to put the dispute on top of the negotiating table and not see it as an obstacle in pushing for a stable relationship.

The government right now has managed to ease up the tension. Nevertheless, Santa Romana admitted, this process is not a one-shot deal. “It will take one more administration to solve the underlying issues.”

Image Credits: Ruletkka | Dreamstime




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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.


South China Sea: One Year After The Philippines Win At The Permanent Court of Arbitration — Brilliant Statecraft or Treason?

July 12, 2017

By Ellen Tordesillas

Posted at Jul 12 2017 02:46 AM

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One of the good things that President Duterte has done was to rekindle relations with China which reached its lowest ebb during the administration of Benigno Aquino III.

Never mind that during the election campaign, he rode on the anti-China sentiments of most Filipinos fueled by the pro-American leanings of Aquino and his Foreign Secretary, Albert del Rosario.

Remember, a standard in Duterte’s campaign speech was his boast that he will ride on a jet ski to one of the islands in the disputed Spratlys and plant the Philippine flag. He would kiss the flag to dramatize his promise. Once in Malacanang, he was asked when he was going to jetski to Spratlys and he replied it was a joke. He said he didn’t even know how to swim.

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In the guise of independent foreign policy, Duterte didn’t just cozy up to China. He attacked the United States when then President Barack Obama reminded him to respect human rights amid reports of rampant killings in connection with his anti-illegal drugs campaign.

His foreign policy moves can be likened to a pendulum that swung from extreme right to extreme left. Today marks first year anniversary of the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands on the case filed by the Philippines against China on the latter’s activities in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

China did not participate in the Arbitral Court proceedings.

It was a major victory for the Philippines. The Arbitral Court declared invalid China’s nine-dashed line map which covers some 85 percent of the whole South China which infringes on the economic exclusive zones of other countries namely the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

The Arbitral Court also ruled that China’s  artificial islands – rocks that were turned into garrisons through reclamation – in the disputed South China Sea do not generate entitlements under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea such as economic exclusive zone (220 nautical miles from the shore) and extended continental shelf (350 nautical miles).

As to Scarborough or Panatag Shoal, which is within the Philippine EEZ, the Arbitral Court said it’s a traditional fishing ground of Philippine, Chinese, Vietnamese and fishermen of other nationalities and should be maintained as such.

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Filipino fishermen had been denied access to the area since April 2012 after a two-month stand off between Chinese and Philippine Coastguards following arrest by a Philippine warship of Chinese fishermen in Scarborough shoal. Two Chinese ships remained even after the Aquino government withdrew its ships.

Duterte takes pride that because of his friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Filipino fishermen are now allowed to fish in the area, which is being guarded by two Chinese ships.

It’s like a battered wife thankful that the husband has stopped beating her.

Duterte’s critics have scored his deference to China even  echoing  the position of China that historically South China Sea is theirs  as the name states.

In an ambush interview last April. Duterte said, “They really claim it as their own, noon pa iyan. Hindi lang talaga pumutok nang mainit. Ang nagpainit diyan iyong Amerikano. Noon pa iyan, kaya (It goes way back. The issue just did not erupt then. What triggered the conflict were the Americans. But it goes all the way back. That’s why it’s called) China Sea… sabi nga nila (they say) China Sea, historical na iyan. So hindi lang iyan pumuputok (It’s historical. The issue just had not erupted then) but this issue was the issue before so many generations ago.”

VERA Files fact-check about the name of South China Sea showed  that  South China Sea used to be called the Champa Sea, after the Cham people who established a great maritime kingdom in central Vietnam from the late 2nd to the 17th century.

That is contained in the book,  ‘The South China Sea Dispute: Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea” by  Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.

Carpio said it was the  Portuguese navigators who coined the name South China Sea.

“The ancient Malays also called this sea Laut Chidol or the South Sea, as recorded by Pigafetta in his account of Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation of the world from 1519 to 1522. In Malay, which is likewise derived from the Austronesian language, laut means sea and kidol means south,” he further said.

“The ancient Chinese never called this sea the South China Sea. Their name for the sea was “Nan Hai” or the South Sea, he adds.

Reading Duterte’s blurting the Chinese line on the South China name, Ruben Carranza, former commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Good Government and now director of the Reparative Justice Program at the International Center for Transitional Justice, said “In football, that would be an ‘own goal.’

That’s when a player delivers the ball to the opponent’s goal.



 (Contains links to information about Vietnam’s renewed efforts to extract oil and gas from the sea bed)

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Dominance of the South China Sea, the Malacca Strait and the Indian Ocean would solidify China’s One Belt One Road project
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The international arbitration court in the Hague said on July 12, 2016, that China’s “nine dash line” was not recognized under international law — making the Vietnamese and Philippine claims on South China Sea islands valid and lawful.
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China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning at Hong Kong

Philippines: A year of walking with China

July 5, 2017
As soon as President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office last year, he announced that his administration would pursue an “independent foreign policy.”

This piece is a part of a news analysis series on the first 12 months of the Duterte administration.

President Rodrigo Duterte took an abrupt turn from his predecessor regarding his foreign policy. As soon as he assumed office last year, he announced that his administration would pursue an “independent foreign policy.”

Article II, Section VII of the 1987 Constitution provides that, “The State shall pursue an independent foreign policy. In its relations with other states, the paramount consideration shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination.”

It appears, however, that pursuing a so-called independent policy would mean appeasing China following the ruling of an international arbitral tribunal on the Manila’s complaint against Beijing’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea.

On July 12, 2016, the United Nations-backed tribunal based in the Hague, Netherlands issued a ruling invalidating China’s historic claims over the disputed waters. Beijing refused to honor the ruling and reiterated its position that it has a historic and legal claim over the South China Sea.

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Duterte has met with Chinese President Xi Jinping thrice since the issuance of the arbitral ruling. The first was during his visit to Beijing in October 2016 where the two leaders signed several agreements between their governments. They met for the second time in November 2016 on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Summit in Lima, Peru. During their bilateral meeting, Duterte assured Xi that he would adopt a foreign policy that veers toward a China-led regional development.

A few days after the conclusion of the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Manila, Duterte received a phone call from Xi to discuss regional issues and how to strengthen ties with the 10-member regional bloc’s regional partners. This follows a watered-down ASEAN chairman statement which failed to mention the international tribunal’s ruling or militarization in the South China Sea. The ASEAN, under Philippine chairmanship, is set to push through with the enactment of a code of conduct on the South China Sea before the year ends.

Last May, Duterte went again to Beijing to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing. The president, however, skipped the opening ceremony of the two-day forum. The Chinese president had pledged $124 billion for his Silk Road plan which could help developing countries like the Philippines.

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Duterte was able to raise with his Chinese counterpart the arbitral ruling during his second visit to Beijing in May but the president said Xi threatened that China would go to war if the Philippines will drill oil in the South China Sea. The Philippine delegation did not raise the arbitral ruling during the start of the discussions on a bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea. China and Southeast Asian nations only settled for a “gentleman’s agreement” to prevent war or to keep the situation in the region stable.

De La Salle University Professor Renato De Castro said that the notion of shifting to an independent foreign policy is rhetorical and without substance as it would mean independence from the United States.

“For Mr. Duterte, independence means separation from US but in exchange for becoming like Cambodia or Laos—countries that are deemed tributary kingdoms of China,” De Castro said in an exclusive interview with

On October 2016, Duterte announced that he is cutting ties with the US, the Philippines’ longtime ally and trading partner. Days after the announcement, he clarified that the separation from the US is “not severance of ties.”

Duterte had expressed his intention to end the Philippines’ war games with the US during his first months in office. The first Balikatan military exercises under the Duterte administration was shortened, scaled down and focused on humanitarian assistance and disaster response instead.

Dindo Manhit, president of the private think tank Stratbase ADR Institute, shared the same sentiment, noting that seeking new friendships and disregarding traditional partners does not improve the country’s ability to preserve national interest.

“Above all, the Philippines’ interest as a smaller country is to ensure that international law prevails. International law is what evens the playing field between countries,” Manhit told, adding that the best proof of this is how the Philippines succeeded in its arbitration case against China.

The Philippines must be willing to use the arbitration ruling to strengthen its position if the bilateral consultation mechanism with China will work, Manhit said.

“Without a willingness to use the ruling to our advantage, what will our country be able to bring to discussion?” Manhit said.

However, a bilateral approach in resolving the maritime dispute would mean that the stronger power would be able to use its influence and resolve the dispute according to its terms, according to De Castro. Duterte appears to have chosen China’s goodwill and economic largess over the Hague ruling.

“Appeasements means that smaller power unilaterally extends concession to a bigger power. The Philippines has already set aside the Hague Ruling and has degraded its alliance with the US to earn China’s good will and possibly, some economic side-payments,” De Castro said.

Manhit, however, noted that there is still room for policies to change or for events to change the decision-making of the Duterte administration as it concludes its first year. The government is highly urged to reconsider its current approach on the issue.

On the other hand, De Castro warned that the Philippines may follow the footsteps of Cambodia and Laos as a result of being obliged for economic reasons to favor China following its investments in the country.

“He (Duterte) wants the Philippines to be independent from the U.S. but a tributary kingdom of China… We will become like Cambodia and Laos, extremely dependent and subservient to China. Associate Justice (Antonio) Carpio used the term ‘filandization,’” [sic] De Castro said.


A year of Duterte’s dystopian vision

A year of accelerated spending—or so they say

A year of battling through traffic and train queues

— Graphics by RP Ocampo


 (Contains links to several more related articles)

 (The Philippines should know that China has a nasty habit of not honoring agreements)

 (Has links to several related articles)

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China’s coast guard monitors and regulated fishing in the South China Sea

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Philippines hits back at HRW report: Don’t brush aside Duterte’s reforms

June 29, 2017
By:  – Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
 / 01:16 PM June 29, 2017
Palace hits back at HRW report: Don’t brush aside Duterte’s reforms

Malacañang on Thursday decried the report of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) saying President Rodrigo Duterte’s first year in office was marred with “human rights calamity.”

“We don’t feel good about the comments of the Human Rights Watch report but we have also have to be firm and we have to realize that the President stood and won on a platform of genuine change,” Communications Assistant Secretary Ana Maria Banaag.

On Wednesday, HRW said the Duterte administration’s “murderous” war on drugs, drug-related overcrowding of jails, and alleged harassment and prosecution of drug war critics had caused a “steep decline in respect for basic rights” since Duterte’s assumption of office.

Banaag said the HRW should not ignore the reforms Duterte had made.

“He wanted a better life for the Filipino people and of course, we should not also – well, Human Rights Watch should not brush aside all the programs especially the enforcement side,” she said.

Government data showed that authorities have facilitated the surrender of 1,304,795 drug personalities from July 1, 2016 to June 6, 2017. It also revealed that security officials had seized 2,340.74 kilos of shabu with a street value of P12.10 billion pesos, and confiscated drug-related laboratory equipment worth P18.01 billion pesos.

“It is not a joke to enforce 62,000 anti-drug operations in here. That’s so much sacrifice and of course also we have around 1.3 million drug surrenderers. These things, the government is doing something about this through the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs,” she said.

Banaag assured the public the government was working to address alleged extrajudicial killings in the country.

“So the government is not sitting down, watching lives being wasted just this way. So with this one of course we say that the President only wanted so much for his countrymen,” she said. JE/rga


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Philippines: After One Year of President Duterte, Lawmaker Says Duterte has done nothing good for Philippines

June 29, 2017


This was the sweeping assessment of Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, an opposition lawmaker from the Liberal Party, on Duterte’s first year in office as he noted that monstrous traffic persists along with the drug menace; peace with communists and Muslim rebels remains elusive and that labor contractualization is still rising despite the President’s campaign promises. File

MANILA, Philippines –  President Rodrigo Duterte may have won overwhelmingly in 2016 but he has done nothing good for the country since he assumed office last year, citing the thousands of extrajudicial killings related to the war on drugs and unabated poverty.

This was the sweeping assessment of Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, an opposition lawmaker from the Liberal Party, on Duterte’s first year in office as he noted that monstrous traffic persists along with the drug menace; peace with communists and Muslim rebels remains elusive and that labor contractualization is still rising despite the President’s campaign promises.

A human rights activist during the martial law regime, Lagman also lamented that Duterte’s pursuit of an independent foreign policy “is belittling or even rejecting traditional diplomatic and trade partners like the United States and countries belonging to the European Union.”

He described this policy as “unbelievable” and that “unquestionably tying the knot with China and Russia” is a bad idea.

“Sacrificing Philippine sovereignty for contingent aid and investment from an expansionist and militarist China is definitely not a measure of an independent foreign policy,” he said in a statement to the media, entitled: “Assessment of Duterte’s First Year in Office.”

“He has relentlessly embarked on a deadly campaign against drug users and traffickers. This violent policy has dismally failed in other countries like Thailand, Columbia and Mexico,” the head of the so-called “Magnificent 7” said, implying the drug campaign is doomed to fail.

Lagman is also unhappy that after extrajudicial killings reached 7,000, “media and other concerned institutions have stopped counting.”

“Extrajudicial killings related to the deadly campaign against drugs invariably result (in) human rights violations and disrespect for the rule of law.”

Contrary to Duterte’s previous pronouncements, he said “peace accords (are) nowhere in sight.”

“One of his campaign promises, which was initially taking off, was the peace settlement with the CPP-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front). But the peace talks are now back to the drawing board,” Lagman said.

Lagman also stressed poverty across the country and traffic mess in major cities have all remained unresolved.

“There is no light at the end of the tunnel for the traffic mess. Putting an end to the traffic mess was only a good election promise to win the presidency. The traffic gridlock, particularly in Metro Manila, intensifies daily up to a point of almost standstill,” Lagman said.

He likewise observed that “mass poverty still stalks the land.”

“Change has certainly not come for millions of poor Filipino families” one year after Duterte assumed power.

“The March 2017 Social Weather Stations survey on self-rated poverty shows that more Filipino families consider themselves poor compared to three months earlier in December 2016,” he noted.

Solon lauds AFP 

Duterte is marking his first year in office with the crisis in Marawi City still raging.

But an administration lawmaker, Rep. Winston Castelo of Quezon City, commended security forces from both the military and police for their “professionalism” amid the conflict in Marawi after the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) admitted there have been no complaints against them.

The CHR issued a report last June 24 which categorically stated that it has not received any formal report on human rights abuses in Mindanao, a month after it was placed under martial law by Duterte.


‘I cannot do that’: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reverses course on promised ‘separation’ from the US

October 22, 2016

Duterte apparently secured US$24 billion worth of funding and investment during four-day visit to Beijing

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 October, 2016, 2:15am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 October, 2016, 7:35pm

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has reversed course and insisted he is not cutting the nation’s cord with the US and that maintaining ties would be in his country’s best interest, stepping back from his “goodbye” America comments made during a ­four-day state visit to China.

“It’s not severance of ties,” Duterte said during a briefing in Davao city, after returning from Beijing. “When you say severance of ties, you cut diplomatic relations. I cannot do that. It’s in the best interests of my country that I don’t do that.”

Earlier in his trip, Duterte told a business forum that: “In this venue, I announce my separation from the US”. Back in the Philippines, though, Duterte claimed the comments referred only to a foreign ­policy that doesn’t “dovetail” with the US.

“What I’m really saying was separation of foreign policy, which in the past and until I became pres­ident, we always followed [the US],” he said.

Duterte’s cabinet members have often sought to tone down his statements. They followed a similar routine this time as well, claiming Duterte was “rebalancing” foreign policy and broadening the country’s alliance and not separating from the US.

“It is breaking away from the perpetual ‘little brown brother’ image of the Americans that has ­impeded our capability to stand on our own feet in addressing the urgent and complex domestic problems and foreign issues and pursuing our national ­interests without undue outside interference,” Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said ­Duterte’s remarks restate his position on “charting an independent foreign policy”.

In Davao, Duterte said he had not ­surrendered anything to China during the visit, particularly the Philippines’ rights to disputed territory in the South China Sea that was bolstered by a Permanent Court of Arbitration decision in July that China’s efforts to assert control over area exceeded the law.

However, he apparently secured US$24 billion worth of funding and investment from Beijing: China will provide US$9 billion in soft loans, including a US$3 billion credit line with the Bank of China, while economic deals including investments would yield US$15 billion, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

Asked about a possible alliance with China and Russia, Duterte said it could be military or economic in nature. He declined to comment on the US elections but called Russian President Vladimir Putin his “favourite hero”.

 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (left) and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (right) hold talks in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Photo: Kyodo

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, asked in Beijing about Duterte’s comments, said countries should not resort to ­win-lose mentalities: “We should not have cold war thinking; it’s either you or me, you win I lose, that kind of zero-sum game.”

The White House, which had responded to the “separation” speech by saying there had been “too many” troubling statements from Duterte recently, was quick to welcome the apparent shift in tone.

“Based on his extensive, colourful previous ­comments, there is greater clarity that we would like to get about the intent of President Duterte and his government,” White House spokesman Josh ­Earnest said. “But based on what you’ve read me that seems to be a change in tone that is more consistent with the seven decade-long alliance between the United States and the Philippines.”


Former Philippine Foreign Minister Albert Del Rosario: Split with US unwise, tragedy that should not happen

October 21, 2016
Our foreign policy must be anchored on democracy, freedom, good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law,” Albert Del Rosario said.

Albert del rosario

Former secretary for foreign affairs Albert del Rosario (AP)

President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement of separating from the United States is unwise and is a national tragedy that should not happen, former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said on Friday.

“What is unfolding before us must be considered a national tragedy which does not need to happen.  It is our earnest hope that this most unfortunate declaration will be corrected,” Del Rosario said in his strongest statement yet on Duterte’s pivot to China.

Del Rosario issued the statement after Mr. Duterte announced this in Beijing: “With that, in this venue, your honors, I announce my separation from the United States, both in military … not in social … both in military and economics.”

READ: Duterte announces military, economic split with US

Del Rosario joined many sectors alarmed by the President’s statements.

“The declared shift in foreign policy casting aside a longtime reliable ally to hastily embrace an aggressive neighbor that vehemently rejects international law is both unwise and incomprehensible,” Del Rosario said.

“We must be with responsible nations with whom we share our core values of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law. To stand otherwise, is not what Filipinos are; it is not what we do; it is not what is right,” Del Rosario added.

READ: Senators caution Duterte on implications of PH-US split

Del Rosario was the secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) from 2011 to 2016 under the previous administration of President Benigno Aquino III, and served as Philippine ambassador to the US in 2001 to 2006.

Del Rosario led the Philippine delegation which appeared before the United Nations arbitral tribunal in The Hague last year for oral arguments on the Philippine case against China over the West Philippine Sea. The Philippines unanimously won the case.

READ: Philippines wins arbitration case vs China over South China Sea

In a recent speech, Del Rosario noted the “lack of clarity” from the Duterte administration on the President’s statements about wanting an “independent foreign policy.”

“To be principled and independent, our foreign policy must be rooted in our core value as a nation. A principled and independent foreign policy must therefore be anchored on democracy, freedom, good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law,” Del Rosario said./rga


Duterte dared: End ‘US imperialist domination’ of PH

Lagman on Duterte’s break-up from US: Just hyperbole

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Philippine President Duterte, In China, Says ‘No’ To Military Alliance, Joint Oil Exploration with China

October 19, 2016
President Duterte gestures to a crowd of well-wishers as he and members of the Philippine delegation together with Chinese officials led by Ambassador Zhao Jianhua  walk along Wangfujing street on their way to the Dadong Roast Duck Restaurant in Beijing yesterday.

BEIJING – President Duterte may have decided to stop the war exercises between the Philippines and the US, but he is also not keen on pursuing a military alliance with China or with any other country “to avoid adding fuel” to what he described as a “volatile” world.

Duterte also ruled out discussions on joint oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea during his four-day state visit here.

In a press briefing, the President said the Philippines would not meddle in brewing conflict among some countries because it would not promote anything positive.

“There will be no military alliances entered into. There will be no military alliances broken. What I am just saying is that we are not interested in adding fuel to what is already a volatile world,” he said.

“There is no such thing as allowing the missiles here or missiles there, I would not allow it,” Duterte said yesterday when asked if he would forge a military alliance with China.

“I am not into that. And if you talk about America, Russia, vis-à-vis China, Great Britain, France, Iran, Pakistan, India, there is a conflict going on, it’s getting hot,” he added.

Duterte said he believes there is no point in acquiring powerful bombs or missiles as an international conflict could “end the world.”

“Why should I borrow missiles or ask for nuclear bomb? For what? They were just crazy people who would want to pull a stack on a matter of national pride,” the Philippine leader said.

“And if you think that if those nuclear bombs will explode at the same time, then we might not be able to board our last men out of China because it will just simply end the world,” he added.

Early this month, Duterte said he would end the joint military drills with US forces after American officials called him out for the spate of killings tied to his brutal war on drugs.

He said he has no plan to cut alliances with the US but maintained that the Philippines should follow a more independent foreign policy.

Early this month, Duterte expressed doubts on the importance of military alliances, which he believes would no longer matter in the age of advanced weapons.

“I do not mean to cancel or abrogate the military alliances but let me ask you: do you really think we need it? If there is a war, if we engage in skirmishes, do you think we really need America?” Duterte said in a speech delivered last Oct. 11.

“Do we need China and Russia – for that matter, do we need somebody? If they fight, if they launch ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) or Poseidon (either a type of US military aircraft or a discontinued US ballistic missile), there will be no more American aid to talk of. There will no more be a country strong enough to rule,” he added.

“When that time comes, we won’t need anything but a priest. If you want, you can recite the mi ultimo adios (National hero Dr. Jose Rizal’s ‘My Last Farewell’).”

Duterte said he would rather go for alliances that would promote the health, education and the welfare of the next generation.

President Duterte receives an architect’s perspective and blueprint of the proposed drug addiction treatment center to be donated by the Friends of the Philippines Foundation during a lunch meeting at Dadong Roast Duck Restaurant in Beijing yesterday.

Joint exploration

Duterte also said the issue on joint oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea would not be discussed during his four-day state visit here.

He explained he is not authorized to discuss the issue because the sharing of resources requires the approval of Congress and “every Filipino involved.”

“No, I don’t think that will be right,” the President said when asked whether he would bring up joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea in his meetings with Chinese leaders.

“If you plan to give up something or if you try to share what you have if it is really yours, then you cannot talk about it openly on your own. This has to be with the consent of Congress and everybody, every Filipino involved in town,” he added.

“So at this time, I am not empowered to do that, I cannot give something and I cannot also add what has not been given me.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. echoed the President’s position, saying it is not the time to discuss the issue.

“We’re not talking about joint exploration. This is not the time to talk about joint exploration. We’re just simply talking about how we can improve better ties with China without eroding or compromising our disputes, which is just a small portion of our relationship with China,” Yasay said in a separate interview.

Earlier reports said officials of the Duterte administration and the Chinese government are in talks to forge a deal that would allow them to jointly explore oil or natural gas in the West Philippine Sea. According to the report, the deal is being finalized and may first cover uncontested areas.

Fishing rights

While the joint exploration of oil and gas is not in the agenda of his state visit, Duterte said he would mention the issue on the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal to Chinese leaders “in passing.”

“It’s (issue) very important because it’s livelihood. We’ll not talk hard on who owns what because that is contested,” Duterte said.

He had announced he would ask Chinese leaders to allow Filipino fishermen to enter the shoal, which is located 124 nautical miles from  Zambales. Chinese ships took control of the shoal in 2012 after a standoff with the Philippine Navy and have since maintained presence in the area.

Although well within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone, Panatag Shoal is covered by China’s nine-dash line, a territorial claim that covers about 90 percent of the resource-rich West Philippine Sea and South China Sea. The legality of the claim was challenged by the Philippines before an international court in 2013.

Last July, the tribunal based in The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines and declared that China’s nine-dash line has no legal basis.

The court also ruled that the Philippines has sovereign rights over the Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, and Recto (Reed) Bank, all in the waters of Palawan.

While the tribunal said it was not ruling on sovereignty issue over Panatag Shoal, it declared that China had violated its duty to respect the Filipinos’ traditional fishing rights by preventing them from entering the shoal.

The West Philippine Sea row is expected to be tackled during Duterte’s meetings with Chinese officials today. The Philippine president is scheduled to hold separate meetings with Chinese president Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and National People’s Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang.

“We would like to thank the People’s Republic of China for allowing us to visit the country and to have a wide ranging bilateral talks regarding shared mutual benefits and other issues that are of importance to the regional peace and security particularly the Southeast Asia,” Duterte said.

“We have identified broad outlines, there can be no specific agreements at this time and we would be glad to engage them and every other while we can to enhance the peace of the region,” he added.

Philippines tells world: Don’t interfere in drug war

September 26, 2016
Philippines’ Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay addresses the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. AP Photo/Andres Kudacki

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. told the United Nations on Saturday President Duterte had an “unprecedented” mandate and the world should not interfere in his crackdown on crime.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Yasay said Duterte was “determined to free the Philippines from corrupt and other stagnating practices,” including the manufacture, distribution and use of illicit drugs.

“Our actions, however, have grabbed both the national headlines and international attention for all the wrong reasons,” Yasay said, urging “everyone to allow us to deal with our domestic challenges in order to achieve our national goals without undue interference.”

Duterte won by a landslide in the May 9 elections after vowing to wipe out drugs and crime. Police said this week that in the past 11 weeks, nearly 3,000 people had been killed in Duterte’s war on drugs, a figure adjusted from the 3,800 they cited last week.

The killings have drawn widespread international criticism, including from the UN, triggering angry responses from Duterte.

On Thursday, Duterte hurled insults anew at UN Secretary-General Ban ki-moon and the European Union, then invited them to come to investigate his crackdown.

Yasay said Duterte had won “an unprecedented and resounding electoral mandate” and now enjoyed a 92 percent approval rating. As such, the President had to deliver on a “sacred” call for change.

“To him, this trust is sacrosanct,” Yasay said. “It cannot be breached, under no circumstance must it be compromised.”

Duterte’s defiance of high-profile organizations and his insults directed at anyone – from United States President Barack Obama to Pope Francis – have amused many Filipinos, but worried foreign governments – not the least the US, which sees Manila as a vital partner in Asia in the face of a rising China.

Some analysts predict Duterte will seek to diversify foreign relations beyond Washington, including seeking better ties with erstwhile maritime foe China.

Yasay said core values enshrined in the Constitution included the mandate “to pursue an independent foreign policy, to promote the national interest.”

He explained that the Philippine government’s campaign to rid the country of criminality, lawlessness and disorder, including the all-out war against illicit drugs, would also remain strictly in accordance with the Constitution, the international norms and human rights treaties and covenants the Philippines was a party to.

Two UN-appointed human rights experts expressed concern last month about measures instituted in the Philippines to crack down on drug offenders.

The UN also lambasted Duterte for a “striking lack of understanding of human rights” and the killing of thousands of Filipinos allegedly involved in drug dealing.

But Yasay said Duterte had declared that the rule of law and respect for due process should prevail at all times.

“We have not and will never empower our law enforcement agents to shoot to kill any individual suspected of drug crimes. And yet, under our established rules of engagement, our police have the right to defend themselves when their lives are threatened,” Yasay said.

“Extrajudicial killings have no place in our society and in our criminal justice system,” he added.

Due to corruption in high and low places, Yasay stated that the Philippines for far too long had not been able to fully address the worsening crime situation and the prevalence of illegal drugs.

“Our people recognize the peril these evils pose to our development and our democracy,” he said.

Corruption, he said, had become the breeding ground for the illegal drug trade, which seriously threatened the country’s peace and order and impeded sustainable development.

“It has torn apart many of our communities, destroyed our families and snuffed out the hopes and dreams of our people – young and old – for a bright future,” Yasay said.

Arbitral award

At the same time, Yasay said Manila would remain “a responsible partner of the international community,” committed to the rule of law – including an international court ruling this year in favor of the Philippines and against China over competing claims in the South China Sea.

In spite of Duterte’s criticisms of the world body, Yasay said the UN had demonstrated “continuing resilience and relevance” and added an apparent reference to the US alliance: “Our domestic concerns compel us to partner with like-minded countries in the areas of maritime security, counterterrorism, disaster response and transnational crime.”

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague handed down a decision in July upholding the primacy of international law as the cornerstone for a rules-based regional and international order.

“The arbitral award, which is final and binding on all parties, is a clearly established fact and is now part of international jurisprudence in the maritime domain,” Yasay said.

“We must not overlook the importance of non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities, maintaining freedom of navigation, the full and effective implementation of the Declaration (on) Conduct (of Parties in the South China Sea or DOC) and the adoption of an effective code of conduct (COC),” he said.

Climate justice

Turning to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Yasay said the Philippines continued to enhance the delivery and quality of basic social services to its people, based on a human approach to development and governance.

The Philippines is among 22 pioneer countries that volunteered at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) to share its initiatives in the first year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

As one of the most disaster-prone and vulnerable countries to the adverse effects of climate change, Yasay reiterated a call for climate justice and the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities in the implementation of obligations under the Paris Agreement.

Duterte said in July that his government would not honor commitments made under the Paris climate change deal, agreed upon by 195 countries, including the Philippines, last December, that aimed to limit global warming to below two degrees Celsius and strive to keep temperatures at 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Duterte believes the deal is blocking the progress of developing countries like the Philippines.

The President also claimed that industrialized countries were “dictating the destiny” of developing ones by requiring them to cut carbon emissions.

The Philippines accounts for less than one percent of the world’s emissions and has not ratified the deal.


Philippines President Duterte’s Tilt Toward China Will Cause Others to Re-Think Strategy in Asia — “He’s obviously given this a lot of strategic thought”

September 16, 2016

By David Tweed and 
Bloomberg News

Just when some of China’s neighbors were seeking to curtail its expansionism, along came Rodrigo Duterte.

In less than three months on the job, the 71 year-old Philippine leader has used expletives in talking about U.S. President Barack Obama and vowed to end cooperation with the U.S. military in both fighting terrorism and patrolling the disputed South China Sea. He’s moved to boost economic and defense ties with China and Russia.

While Duterte is unpredictable — one day calling China “generous” and the next threatening a “bloody” war if Beijing attacked — his behavior has undermined U.S. efforts to rally nations from Japan to Vietnam to Australia to stand up to China’s military assertiveness.

President Barack Obama, second from left, and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, second from right, face each other on the podium before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gala dinner in Vientiane, Laos, on Sept. 7. RITCHIE B. TONGO / EPA

In doing so, he risks shifting from the 1951 Philippine-U.S. defense treaty, which has been a bedrock of American influence in the region. While Duterte has said he’ll respect the alliance he’s repeatedly stressed the need for an “independent foreign policy” and questioned America’s willingness to intervene if China were to seize territory in the South China Sea.

‘Game Changer’

“This could be the game changer for the South China Sea situation in general and Sino-U.S. regional competition specifically,” said Zhang Baohui, director of the Center for Asian Pacific Studies at Lingnan University in Hong Kong. “Duterte’s foreign policy may dramatically shift the geostrategic picture of the region, leaving China in an advantageous position versus the United States.”

One of the biggest benefits for China is the potential for a deal over the South China Sea. Just weeks after Duterte took office in late June, an international arbitration panel ruledthat China’s claims to most of the waterway had no legal basis — a win for the Philippines in a case brought by Duterte’s predecessor.

While Duterte has said he’ll respect the ruling, he’s signaled he’s open to talks with China, the country’s biggest trading partner, and he did not push for the ruling to be mentioned in the communique last week from a summit of Southeast Asian leaders in Laos. Before taking office, he said he’d consider setting aside territorial disagreements to get a Chinese-built railway.

 Joint Effort

In July, Duterte sent former President Fidel Ramos to Hong Kong to explore common ground with China. Ramos later called for a bigger role for the Philippines under China’s plan to link ports and other trading hubs throughout Asia to Europe.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Wednesday that China is aware of reports on Duterte’s comments regarding military cooperation, but had no specifics. She said that China “will work with the Philippines to promote and renew normal exchanges and cooperation in different fields.”

“Let’s not be naive about this, there’s no other country that will benefit from our differences with the U.S. and our other allies but China,” said Lauro Baja, a former Foreign Affairs undersecretary who served as the Philippine permanent representative to the United Nations under ex-President Gloria Arroyo. “Whether we like it or not, we’re sending the wrong message to the U.S., China and our other allies with these actions and pronouncements.”

China claims sovereignty over all features that lie within a nine-dash line drawn on a 1940s map enclosing more than 80 percent of the South China Sea. It says that gives it the right to interdict military ships close to its territory — a position the U.S. opposes.

Fu Ying, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee of China’s top lawmaking body, this month framed U.S.-China tensions in the South China Sea as a fight over the freedom of navigation for naval warships and other non-commercial vessels within the 200 nautical-mile exclusive economic zones of coastal states.

“The Chinese want the South China Sea to become a Chinese strait, with control of the maritime space and the air space above it,” said Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra. “That is the long-term game, and flipping Duterte over to Beijing’s side is part of the play.”

China’s land reclamation and military buildup in the waters has in recent years pushed some neighbors closer to the U.S. The Obama administration has boosted military cooperation with nations such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore, and Japan.

Filipino Members of the group Kalayaan Atin Ito (Freedom This Is Ours) raise their fists next to the Philippines flag as they sail to Scarborough Shoal, June 2016. PHOTO by KALAYAAN ATIN ITO for AFP

‘Very Bad Scenario’

Still, at the summit last week in Laos, a spat with Obama over Duterte’s war on drugs and the thousands of deaths it has caused overshadowed any criticism of China.

“That’s a very bad scenario,” said Hideki Makihara, a senior lawmaker in Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, referring to a potential Philippine strategic alignment with China. In that case, “at least we need Vietnam, Malaysia and other countries surrounding the South China Sea in our group,” he said in an interview this week in Tokyo.

For now, U.S. officials are emphasizing the benefits of defense ties with the Philippines.

“We’ve got a wide range of shared concerns and shared interests, and the United States and the Philippines have been able to work effectively together in a variety of areas to advance our mutual interests,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Sept. 12.

Backlash Risk

A shift toward China may be difficult for Duterte to sustain. If China refuses to make any tangible concessions on the South China Sea, particularly over fishing resources at the disputed Scarborough Shoal, Duterte may face a domestic backlash, according to Richard Javad Heydarian, an assistant political science professor at De La Salle University in Manila.

“This is precisely why security relations with the United States will remain indispensable for the Philippines,” he wrote in an article last week for the Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative. Still, the U.S. can no longer expect the same level of strategic deference and diplomatic support. “This is the new normal in Philippine-U.S. relations.”

No real smiles here: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, September 12, 2016. Credit REUTERS


 (China is taking the Marine Life and Seafood away from the Philippines)

A worker carries a line-caught yellowfin tuna at the General Santos Fish Port, which is known as the “tuna capital of the Philippines.” The South China Sea, through which tuna migrate, produces more fish than almost anywhere else, but it has been severely overfished and is nearing collapse. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

 (New York Times Editorial)

Filipino fishermen aboard the Ninay haul in sardines and scad in national waters near the South China Sea. The territorial and maritime disputes in the South China Sea have increased competition for dwindling fish stocks of all species.  Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

A couple sits outside a home built over the water in Quezon, where most people have family members who work as fishermen. Overfishing has put the livelihoods of many Filipinos at risk.
Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

China Coast Guard — In this photo released by the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters of Japan, a Chinese coastguard vessel sails near the disputed islands in the East China Sea on August 6, 2016. Japan said this ship was watching over more than 200 Chinese fishing boats fishing illegally in Japanese waters. AP