President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. must not make the same mistake his predecessor, former President Rodrigo Duterte, committed when it comes to China policy, former Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said in a statement to the Inquirer on Tuesday (July 12).
Duterte, who enjoyed a warm and friendly relationship with Beijing, did not take a strong stance until the final months of his administration when it came to the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea, a territory part of the country’s exclusive economic zone.
The country’s former top diplomat is urging Marcos to not step aside the ruling, and even went so far as to say that the Philippines must “consistently raise the [arbitral] Award before the United Nations General Assembly and sponsor a UN resolution showing the support of other countries in enforcing the Award.”
According to del Rosario, the arbitral ruling will have the support of the international community, and would benefit the coastal countries surrounding the South China Sea.
Del Rosario is also encouraging Marcos to beef up the country’s armed forces, including the navy and coast guard, and strengthen ties with security alliances, especially with the country’s oldest and longest ally, the United States.
Meanwhile, retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio is unsure whether Marcos’s pronouncements on upholding the arbitral ruling can be trusted, but he has suggested that the new president lift the suspension of oil exploration activities in the West Philippine Sea, and have our troops like the Philippine Navy and Coast Guard escort the survey ships in the area.
“Malaysia and Indonesia, even without an arbitral ruling or Mutual Defense Treaty with the US, asserted their sovereign rights by surveying and drilling in their EEZs despite Chinese threat[s] and the presence of Chinese coast guard vessels,” Carpio added. “[Marcos] does not have [the] political will to do that.”
Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments in politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. The views expressed are his own.
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