“The group agrees that a peace scenario that promotes development in the region will have a very positive impact to President-elect Duterte’s agenda of shared growth,” said Manhit. File photo
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine business leaders and international think tanks discussed probable scenarios and strategic effects the government of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte might face in the ongoing territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.
The Philippine delegation included businessmen belonging to the Philippine Trade Foundation Eminent Persons Group, led by Philippines Inc. chairman Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco, as well as Dindo Manhit, president of local think tank Stratbase Albert Del Rosario Institute (ADRi), which helped arrange the meetings with Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
“The group agrees that a peace scenario that promotes development in the region will have a very positive impact to President-elect Duterte’s agenda of shared growth,” said Manhit.
Perspectives on the security and economic issues in the Asia Pacific region were discussed such as forecasts on how Chinese sentiment may evolve over time.
The most important meeting for the delegation was with Brgdr. Gen. Suzanne Vares-Lum of the US Pacific Command, who has a key role in shaping and maintaining regional security in the region through diplomatic and economic policies as well as military-to-military and politico-military relationships among the 43 Pacific nations.
Ahead of the proclamation of Duterte, the key to the US’ much-publicized Asia pivot and a new era of US-Philippine security cooperation is the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, or EDCA, said CSIS director of the Southeast Asia Program Murray Hiebbert.
More than a tool to fill the gap in the Philippines’ external defense weakness, EDCA can also be a framework for a new era of cooperation across the spectrum of the security operations in the Asia Pacific region, he said.
“A direct confrontation with China does not appear likely at this point, a result of an increasingly united front by many countries regarding its claims in the disputed waters,” he added, citing the Philippines’ ongoing case at The Hague.
With the situation in the West Philippine Sea continuously evolving, Duterte should remain apprised of every new development, whether they are from Manila, Beijing, or Washington, Manhit added.
Originally posted on The Philippine Star