Letters to the Editor

The 3 Pillars of Philippine Foreign Policy: Economy, Security and OFWs (1st of 2 Parts)

- Alberto G. Romulo -

As we ring in 2011, the men and women of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and of the Philippine Foreign Service join me in welcoming the New Year with a renewed commitment to serve the Filipino people, with the highest standards of professional excellence as the implementers of our nation’s foreign policy.

We also remember the past year with a sense of fulfillment and with firm resolve to build on the gains made in 2010, a seminal year of accomplishments for the Department. 

Through the years, the DFA has been guided by the Three Pillars of Philippine Foreign Policy, namely the preservation and enhancement of national security, the promotion and attainment of economic security and the protection of the rights and the promotion of the welfare and interest of all Filipinos overseas.

To enhance the Three Pillars even further, President Benigno S. Aquino III has re-emphasized that Philippine foreign policy begins at home. A clear and reform-driven domestic policy provides the solid foundation for a more effective and credible conduct of foreign policy, the President said.

In 2010, President Aquino made an impressive debut on the world stage. The President engaged key world leaders in New York, Hanoi and Yokohama with the interests of the Filipino people and the building of the Philippine economy foremost in mind.

As chief architect of Philippine foreign policy, the President met with the leaders of Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, the United States and with the United Nations Secretary General in New York during the UN General Assembly last October; with the leaders of Brunei, Thailand, Myanmar, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Australia at the 16th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Hanoi in November, and with the Presidents of China and the United States, and the Prime Minister of Canada at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting in Yokohama, Japan.

With an unerring sense of purpose in promoting the national interest abroad, President Aquino has strengthened the country’s relations with key neighbors and partners in Southeast Asia, East Asia, North America and the rest of the world, paving the way for significant foreign investments and development assistance for our economy, and improving the safety and well-being of overseas Filipinos.

Ensuring National Security

Over the past year, the DFA has also relentlessly pursued our nation’s vital interests in the international community and has helped strengthen the foundations for a peaceful, progressive and prosperous world through engagement on key global issues.

In the first half of 2010, the Department assisted in the peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). It continues to lend support to the ongoing peace talks with the MILF and the implementation and review of the peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), especially in interfacing with foreign governments which have cooperated with the Philippines in the holding of these talks.

The Philippines hosted the Special Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace and Development (SNAMM) in March 20, 2010. The summit produced the Manila Declaration approved by over 120 foreign delegations on key principles in the achievement of peace and development through interfaith dialogue.

The Philippines made the world a safer place when it successfully presided over the 2010 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The Philippines steered contentious negotiations that resulted in a Final Outcome Document containing 64 points on nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy thus revitalizing the international dialogue on nuclear disarmament after an impasse of more than a decade.

In addition, the Philippines continued to make important contributions to international peace and security by participating in United Nations peacekeeping operations. More than a thousand men and women from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police are serving under the United Nations banner and are helping keep the peace in conflict areas worldwide.

As country coordinator for the ASEAN-US dialogue for the years 2009 to 2012, the Philippines took the lead in broadening and expanding the areas of cooperation between the countries of Southeast Asia and the US, which is vital to the region’s sustained stability, security and economic well-being.

In close consultation with the Philippine Congress and other concerned executive departments, the DFA helped in the passage, after more than 27 years of the Philippine Archipelagic Baselines Law.

The DFA also took the lead in the timely submission in April last year of the Philippine Archipelagic Baseline law in the UN and finally won the country’s claim for an extended continental shelf.

The country has actively promoted a binding code of conduct in the South China Sea, bilaterally and through ASEAN, and will continue to pursue the issue with vigor. Since the signing of the Declaration of Conduct on the South China Sea in 2002, calm and stability have been successfully maintained in the region.

The Philippines has been, and will remain, a strong and consistent advocate for human rights. Our early and strong advocacy for the establishment of the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights and for the release of Myanmar’s democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, among others, have advanced the region’s human rights agenda.

The DFA will remain the country’s first line of defense in ensuring the country’s national security through forward policies of good neighborliness, regional solidarity and community-building, international dialogue and cooperation and reliable partnership with other nations.

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