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Better foreign policy, maritime security urged

Rainier Allan Ronda - The Philippine Star
Better foreign policy, maritime security urged
“Our territorial right in the West Philippine Sea is no longer just a claim. After July 2016, or when the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in our favor, that claim became a right given to us under a rules-based international system,” Professor Victor Andres Manhit pointed out.
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MANILA, Philippines — President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. can immediately establish that he is different from his predecessor in the critical areas of foreign policy and maritime security, experts agreed during a forum organized by think tank Stratbase-Albert del Rosario Institute (Stratbase-ADRI).

Professor Victor Andres Manhit, Stratbase-ADRI president, said the incoming Chief Executive could take a more assertive, responsive and strategic foreign policy, especially in light of China’s recent incursions in the country’s exclusive economic zone – the latest in a long list of such incidents – and its harassment of Filipino fishermen.

“Our territorial right in the West Philippine Sea is no longer just a claim. After July 2016, or when the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in our favor, that claim became a right given to us under a rules-based international system,” he pointed out.

He added that the national government could uphold sovereignty and territorial integrity by fostering “multilateral, inclusive cooperation through alliances and strategic partnerships.”

Chester Cabalza, founder and president of International Development and Security Cooperation, noted that an independent foreign policy needs a strong Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

“The Navy and the PCG should maintain sovereignty patrols on the country’s maritime domains, ensuring a surface force to meet the current mission and long-term obligations, including the safeguard of sea control and denial, projecting power, maintaining maritime security, and also performing functions to support its mission other than war,” Cabalza said.

“The AFP and PCG should improve (their) human, organizational and information capital… build a culture of jointness and establish integrated secure communications and information system to institutionalize integrated joint logistics support systems and develop a professional and highly motivated regular and reserve force,” he added.

Manhit and Cabalza discussed these issues in light of their special papers in the book “Beyond the Crisis: A Strategic Agenda for the Next President” compiled and published by Stratbase ADRI. Their papers are among 16 policy studies written by experts in the fields of foreign policy, the economy and development, and governance.

Manhit pointed to a fundamental change: the deterioration of the old order and a shift to a multi-polar world where states are economically, geopolitically and strategically interconnected.

“We need a more responsive and strategic foreign policy that would implement a clear, cohesive and consistent foreign policy direction and develop the country’s comprehensive power according to its military, economic, scientific and cultural capabilities,” said.

Manhit’s paper, ‘A Responsive and Strategic Foreign Policy Outlook in an Interconnected and Multipolar World,’ said the next Philippine leader must craft a responsive and strategic foreign policy to reverse the losses caused by the flippant policy of the current administration. These linkages with like-minded states are needed to counter the threat from China and other traditional and non-traditional security challenges.

His paper also highlighted the importance of prioritizing economic cooperation and participation in regional and global economic initiatives to advance the national interests of the Philippines.

“By maximizing the opportunities brought by existing economic partnerships and actively participating in regional and global economic initiatives, the Philippine government can efficiently address the concerns of the public in terms of long- term economic growth and development,” Manhit said.

PCG

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