Securing Benham Rise Part 2

 "Foreign policy is made and laid out by the president, not the Defense Secretary or the Foreign Affairs Secretary."

Continuation of Securing Benham Rise Part 1

When various voices issued the loud warnings on Benham Rise, you wonder why some were confused when President Rodrigo Duterte spoke.  The last time we checked, foreign policy is made and laid out by the president, not the Defense Secretary or the Foreign Affairs Secretary.  Both are mere alter egos of the president, hence recommendatory, if ever to the presidential decision making process.  Clearly, the president has the power to make treaties, concurred in by the Senate, and make international agreements.  The president is the chief diplomat as head of state.  The president influences foreign policy through diplomatic appointments.  Was it therefore an excited Defense Secretary who raised a red flag on Chinese boats entering our territory or a Note Verbale, rightly issued by the DFA, that painted out a confused PRRD?
The issue should have been settled when China also came out in clear and unequivocal terms saying, “China fully respects the Philippines' rights over the continental shelf in the 'Benham Rise' and there is no such thing of China challenging those rights.”
But alas, some wanted to use a different yardstick with the incumbent president, setting aside such facts as: 1) When Senator Antonio Trillanes went to China sixteen times did President Benigno Aquino secure the approval of then DFA Secretary Del Rosario or DND Secretary Gazmin? 2) How about when Aquino agreed with the Chinese to
"mutually withdraw" from Scarborough? 3) How about when Aquino allowed the Chinese to provide funding for undersea explorations by some Filipino corporations at Benham? 4) How about during the time of President Fidel V. Ramos, when he approved seismic surveys to be conducted within the vicinity of Reed Bank by a foreign company? And 5) How about during the time of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Speaker Jose de Venecia, when they embarked on joint underwater survey in portions of our continental shelf?  In all these, no approval from SND or SFA were made.  It was worst during Aquino because no National Security Council meeting was called and the DFA stopped talking with their counterparts in China for three years.

To be continued

About the Author
Malou Tiqiua is the Founder/General Manager of PUBLiCUS Asia Inc. A noted political management expert in the Philippines and Asia, she brings over 20 years of professional experience in public, private and the academe combined. Author of the comprehensive book on electoral campaigns in the Philippines, "Campaign Politics", Malou is a graduate of the University of the Philippines with a Political Science degree and a Master of Public Administration. She completed her second master's degree (MA in Political Management) from the Graduate School of Political Management, George Washington University.
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