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Instructions in Singaporean pragmatism

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I had a chance to join 14 other Asean journalists in a wide-ranging interview with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last week. ANC’s Coco Alcuaz, formerly of Bloomberg, has already written of Lee’s pragmatic approach to the territorial disputes between China and some Asean member-states.

Posted: September 23rd, 2013 in Columnists,Columns,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

China blames neighbors for the trouble it created

A political observer noted that China is blaming its neighbors and the United States for the tension spawned by maritime disputes in the South and East China seas when, in fact, it is the one that started the trouble. This shows how treacherous the Chinese are, he said. I agree.

Posted: June 20th, 2013 in Inquirer Opinion,Letters to the Editor | Read More »

Stalemates in Sabah and the Spratlys

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The stalemates in Sabah and in the Spratly chain of islands have one essential thing in common: They both represent a legal dilemma.

Posted: May 26th, 2013 in Columnists,Columns,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Challenge China

The government’s decision to challenge China’s expansive claims to the South China Sea by invoking the arbitration provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) is both unexpected and overdue. Many simply assumed that the government’s legal option (its so-called third track of resolving the conflict in territorial and maritime claims, after political means and diplomatic measures) meant filing a case before the right court; in this case, the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, or Itlos, in Hamburg, Germany. At the same time, the clear and compelling arguments for the Philippine case fed a growing impatience for legal action; why was the Department of Foreign Affairs taking so long?

Posted: January 28th, 2013 in Editor's Pick,Editorial,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Summits for sale?

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“ONCE AGAIN, Cambodia tried to pull a fast one on the Philippines and other Asean countries involved in territorial disputes with China,” the Inquirer noted in Thursday’s editorial on the just concluded 21st Asean Summit in Phnom Penh.

Posted: November 23rd, 2012 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Featured Columns,Featured Headline,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

China’s agenda

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In dealing with China particularly on territorial disputes, the Philippines’ foreign policy makers still live in the Cold War era. The Aquino administration lacks strategic thinkers and talks through variant voices, with its “backdoor diplomacy” compromised by leaks and acrimonious public debates.

Posted: October 15th, 2012 in Columnists,Columns,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Territorial disputes and the need for effective diplomacy

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When the Panatag Shoal became the subject of a territorial dispute between the Philippines and China, the Philippine government decided to send to China Sonia Brady, a retired ambassador, on the grounds that she had previously served there and had established valuable contacts. It was a risky choice because of her age, and it failed. Moreover, it may have been based on a faulty assumption. In her previous assignments in China, Ambassador Brady may not have established any contacts at all with the officials who decide foreign policy.

Posted: September 17th, 2012 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Sovereignty first

There are many situations where the mind of a businessman can solve problems and break deadlocks where the mind of a politician cannot. Often, the businessman—thinking only in terms of pesos and centavos—can formulate innovative solutions that are beyond the imagination of the politician who is hobbled by having to balance a million and one considerations for a multitude of stakeholders. Indeed, a pragmatic businessman can move things forward in ways a pragmatic politician cannot.

Posted: May 21st, 2012 in Editor's Pick,Editorial | Read More »

Could China’s sanctions choke us?

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One hundred fifty container loads of Philippine bananas are being left to rot in the Chinese ports of Dalian, Shanghai and Xingang, according to reports that came over the weekend. Our own government officials have been quick to play down any link between the holding of the banana shipments and the ongoing tension at the Panatag Shoal. But even if there wasn’t such a link before, who would believe there wouldn’t be one now?

Posted: May 15th, 2012 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

‘Makapili’-approach

From Lapu-Lapu to Jose Rizal, Philippine history is replete with people who fought against overwhelming odds and won. Of course, we were still colonized by the Spaniards and Americans, occupied by the Japanese and subjugated by a home-grown dictator. But the point is the Filipino spirit is indomitable and, despite the awesome might of our oppressors, we still prevailed in the end.

Posted: May 15th, 2012 in Inquirer Opinion,Letters to the Editor | Read More »

Dispute becomes economic

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The maritime standoff between the Philippines and China in the disputed Scarborough Shoal escalated into an economic conflict on Friday following a Chinese clampdown on Philippine banana exports to China and on travel of Chinese tourists to the country.

Posted: May 14th, 2012 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Tit for tat

Manila should not get deep into a tit for tat with Beijing over the Scarborough Shoal dispute despite the two capitals trading barbs against each other.

Posted: May 13th, 2012 in Editor's Pick,Editorial,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

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