Experts laud Philippines for leading Asean as “zone of cooperation & trade”

Experts agree that Duterte's independent foreign policy has helped stabilize the region on territorial disputes and won over all the world’s big powers.

Diplomacy and geopolitics experts lauded the Philippines’ leadership of the Asean economic bloc in helping make the region “a zone of cooperation and trade, instead of a region with intractable confrontation and conflicts” at the non-partisan Pandesal Forum of Kamuning Bakery Café in Quezon City. They said the Philippines as leader of Asean, now perceived as a non-aligned and independent nation in geopolitics, can also possibly help diffuse the North Korea crisis with peace and dialogue overtures.

Maritime issues expert former Ambassador Alberto Encomienda, defense expert Brig. General Victor Corpus and geopolitics analyst former Education Undersecretary Butch Valdes congratulated the Philippines’s chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and hosting of the forthcoming 50th anniversary summit in Manila, saying that President Rody R. Duterte’s independent foreign policy has helped stabilize the region on territorial disputes and won over all the world’s big powers U.S., China, Russia and Japan as friends of the Philippines.

Gen. Victor Corpus said that if the Philippines had insisted in the previous policy of a “win-loss” approach to the territorial dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea, of having the Philippines win a “total victory” at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague and forcing China to accept a “total loss” position, then this approach will result in a strategic loss for the country because China doesn’t recognize the non-United Nations arbitration body and didn’t participate. General Corpus said that the Duterte administration’s “win-win” approach of allowing the Philippines to win and also seeking mutually acceptable win or benefits for the country’s ancient friend China, this is the best realpolitik and strategic approach. Corpus urged both the Philippines and China to not argue about sovereignty ownership based on overlapping legal and historic claims, but to pragmatically pursue win-win cooperation of joint exploitation of any natural or mineral resources, joint development of tourism in those disputed areas and joint cooperation in fisheries. 

Gen. Corpus reminded the world that the Philippines used to benefit from an earlier version of the China-led Maritime Silk Road which was called the “Galleon Trade”, with Manila serving as crucial and strategic entry point between China’s exports of silk and porcelain passing Manila then going to Acapulco in Mexico and then on to Seville in Spain and Europe. He said the Philippines’ revival of our ancient bilateral ties with China will make the country benefit from the 21st century Silk Road vision of China’s President Xi Jinping called the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI).

When asked why China has been building artificial isles in the disputed areas of South China Sea, General Corpus analyzed that the Straits of Malacca is crucial economically and strategically for the world’s second biggest economy of China due to its massive oil imports and huge exports passing that sea lane, which China wants to safeguard and keep always open. On the Scarborough Shoal issue, General Corpus asserted that this area called Manila Trench is the deep sea part of the South China Sea where USA’s nuclear submarines can maneuver and also possibly threaten the industrial/economic belt of China, therefore it is logical for China’s leaders to consider that area as strategic for its national security. General Corpus said that President Duterte’s cooperation policy with China and independent foreign policy shall continue to benefit the Philippines economically, strategically and diplomatically now and in the long-term.

Ambassador Encomienda lauded President Rody R. Duterte’s successful independent foreign policy, which has economically and strategically benefitted the Philippines. He rejected critics’ claims that Duterte is allegedly “inconsistent”, because Encomienda said Duterte is consistent in upholding the Philippines’s national interests. Encomienda reminded: “In foreign policy, nothing is permanent, except the national interests of our country.” Ambassador Encomienda

Undersecretary Butch Valdes said President Duterte’s leadership of Asean and championing an independent foreign policy shall allow the Philippines to benefit from the world’s biggest ever transcontinental infrastructure development program led by China called Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Photo courtesy of Kamuning Bakery Cafe