‘Right is might’

- The Philippine Star

Last Friday, I was invited to speak before faculty members and students of the International Studies Department of the De La Salle University and share my thoughts regarding foreign policy issues involving the Philippines. It’s been such a long time since I have been to the La Salle campus and I could not believe the changes, with so many buildings now dotting the place — perhaps indicative of the progress in an institution that has been in existence for 100 years.

We were originally invited by Professor Rene de Castro to participate in a discussion of China’s foreign policy in a post Hu Jintao era, along with former ABC News Beijing Bureau Chief Chito Sta. Romana with Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing as guest speaker. Unfortunately, due to other commitments, I was unable to make it. In any case, the symposium last Friday was arranged by associate professor Francis Domingo and Dr. Charmaine Misalucha, vice chair of the department.

We are told the symposium is part of La Salle’s efforts to broaden the awareness of students on global issues, and we get a good sense that the young people who attended the activity were very keen in knowing more about the Aquino administration’s position regarding the territorial dispute with China. Fortunately, in a trade delegation dinner the previous night, we were seated in the same table with Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario. He gave us a brief on our current stand on the whole issue. The quotable quote from the Secretary, as he put it, is that “On the South China Sea challenges, notwithstanding our limitations, the Philippines is taking the strongest position that ‘right is might’.”

This perspective was, perhaps, the impetus that drove President Aquino to speak up during the ASEAN meeting in Cambodia when he spontaneously stood up disputing Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s statement that the ASEAN member countries have come to a consensus and not to “internationalize” the discussion regarding the territorial disputes involving China. As a result of President Aquino’s objection, other nations who also have claims on the disputed territories are now speaking out. The fact of the matter is — the only option we have is to bring international attention to the territorial dispute — making sure it becomes a global concern.

It’s clear that our foreign policy is very much indicative of the current administration’s resolve to “do what is right.” In retrospect, doing the right thing is indeed a solid principle that should govern the conduct not only of governments and their leaders, but even ordinary individuals. More often than not, people subscribe to the idea that “might is right” — where money, power, influence, military capability and even sheer physical strength alone automatically gives one moral suasion, supremacy or ascendancy over others. 

Criticism, of course, is par for the course when you are the leader of a country like the Philippines where everyone wants to have his say. But one cannot also deny that over the past two years, this administration has been trying its level best to do what is right and correct some of the wrongs that have happened in the past. A core focus of this Aquino government is the dispensation of justice and reforming the Judiciary, obviously borne out of the fact that P-Noy fully knows what it was like to be a victim of injustice.

Perhaps that is the reason why P-Noy has been coming up with “out-of-the-box” appointments, like the selection of Ma. Lourdes Sereno as Chief Justice and just recently, with former UP Law dean Marvic Leonen who became the newest Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Leonen will serve for 21 years, longer than Sereno’s term. Who knows — he may even become the next Chief Justice since he will be one of the most senior appointees when Sereno retires in 2030.

As far as the perception of the international community is concerned, the Philippines has made a lot of inroads in the economy. Investment prospects are on the upswing, and even the IMF said we are the only country with an upgraded growth forecast this year. In fairness, however, we have to give credit to GMA’s administration since it was during her term in 2006 when we paid off all IMF outstanding loans.

Like his mother, P-Noy relies on Divine guidance when faced with tough decisions, seeking spiritual advice from Fr. Catalino Arevalo and Carmelite Sister Agnes Guillen. Clearly, the President’s Christian faith is what gives him the guiding light to pursue the right path.

At the end of the day, it’s not really how much money you have, how powerful you are or how influential you have become — but whether you kept the righteous path which, as the Bible said, keeps shining brighter and leads to eternal life. Many leaders who persisted in staying on the wrong side of history learned this painful lesson the hard way — when it was already too late to make a turnaround, staying on the wrong path which ultimately led to their destruction.

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Contrary to previous reports, Ayala-led Bank of Philippine Islands has not reached a final agreement with the Lucio Tan group for the majority acquisition of Philippine National Bank. Apparently, there are still several details and conditions that are not acceptable to “Kapitan” before he gives his nod on the proposed merger deal. Everybody is well aware that the Tan family has many internal issues to resolve before any concrete agreement takes place. Currently, there seems to be some squabble on who among the family members would be entitled to Board representations or who would sit in committees should the merger with BPI take place.

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Email: babeseyeview@yahoo.com


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