Think tank: Duterte admin should strengthen ties with US, other allies

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FILE – In this Monday, May 9, 2016 file photo, front-running presidential candidate Mayor Rodrigo Duterte gestures at photographers to move back prior to voting in a polling precinct at Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School at Matina district, his hometown in Davao city in southern Philippines. The U.S. has upset China by sending on Wednesday, May 11, a destroyer close to the largest man-made island in disputed South China Sea waters. Beijing responded by saying it will step up its own patrols. The likely election of Duterte in the new Philippines could undermine his predecessor’s policy that was unusually hostile to Beijing and relied on U.S. military backing. Beijing sees an opening even as it braces for a possibly unfavorable ruling from a U.N. tribunal, calling the process biased. AP/Bullit Marquez, File

MANILA, Philippines — The incoming administration of presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte should strengthen its alliance treaties with the United States and other countries such as Australia and Japan, a think tank said.

Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute (ADRi) said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) needs to shift its stance from internal security to territorial defense.

“We believe the AFP should now develop a credible defense position that would make a potential adversary think twice before using force against the Philippines,” Stratbase ADRi President Dindo Manhit said in a statement released on Monday.

Manhit suggested forming a trilateral armed forces consisting of the Army, Air Force and Navy for maritime territorial security.

The trilateral armed forces would monitor and secure the country’s land features in the disputed South China Sea or West Philippine Sea and adjacent waters.

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Manhit added that the next government should focus in strengthening the AFP’s joint operation capabilities for the Philippines to be able to face an assertive China.

The analyst noted that the AFP’s development of its early warning, surveillance, command, control and communication must be designed with allies in mind. This would include strengthening the country’s alliance with the US built around the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

“Continuous training with allied forces, including the US and its other bilateral allies such as Japan, Australia, and South Korea should also be prioritized,” Manhit said.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration under the United Nations is expected to issue its ruling on the Philippines’ case against China’s nine-dash line claim by this month. Beijing had refused to participate in the proceedings of the arbitration. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

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