Abating regional tensions with a presidential foreign policy challenge
As the 2022 Philippine presidential race gets underway, the respective foreign policy agendas of the presidentiables must receive closer scrutiny. This national electoral issue is a highly critical policy area of concern for the Philippine state. In fact, Manila is by now urgently compelled to respond to the new global strategic shift commenced by the latest China-Russia summit in Beijing last Feb. 4. In particular, the Sino-Russo bloc has just vowed to jointly confront the destabilizing hegemony of the United States in both Europe and East Asia. Indeed, Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin strongly proclaimed their joint opposition to America’s growing “regional security threats” threatening “international strategic stability.”
Thus, given the direct security implications for Southeast Asia, the Filipino electorate must already know and grasp how their next head of state aims to effectively protect Philippine independence and sovereignty in the years ahead.
Manila vitally strives to safeguard the country’s archipelagic sovereignty within maritime Southeast Asia. But geopolitical impacts, linked to the rising great-power competition between America and China, are perilously roiling the vast realm of the Southeast Asian Sea (aka the South China Sea). This maritime area’s strategically decisive environment is also undermined by a host of bilateral and multilateral territorial disputes involving the Southeast Asian Sea’s littoral states. So, from Manila’s outlook, the regional security environment’s overall stability is largely viewed through the lens of the country’s maritime zone, known as the West Philippine Sea.
Yet it is against this volatile external backdrop that certain presidential candidates have brashly declared their plans to further militarize Southeast Asia. Their bellicose external affairs stances were expressed during recently aired interviews. Chiefly set through the international question of the Southeast Asian Sea, these alarming foreign policy views are narrowly framed within the reactionary limits of national-chauvinist and militarist courses of action. As such, these prospective Malacañang tenants intend to further violate the peaceful, independent, and non-aligned foreign policy provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution—by either commission or omission.
For instance, both Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Ping Lacson assert the need for the Philippines to bolster its longtime military alliance with America. Likewise, former senator Bongbong Marcos Jr., Sen. Manny Pacquiao, and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno merely cite generalities for regional peace—yet they loudly remain silent on the presence of US military forces posturing against China from Philippine soil. So clearly, they all seek to preserve the Philippines as US imperialism’s premier tripwire-state in Southeast Asia today.
Therefore, given the “same old, same old,” an alternatively progressive foreign policy path is crucially needed.
Rasti Delizo, [email protected]
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