Risks and prospects for PH foreign policy

Dindo Manhit, President, Stratbase ADR Institute

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine demonstrates how violent conflicts wreak havoc on the international system and undermine the global economy.

Heightened geopolitical risks from such security challenges have continued to affect governments, businesses, and communities worldwide. The far-reaching implications are instructive of the essential roles of diplomacy and multilateral cooperation in ensuring long-term security and prosperity.

Hence, a renewed definition and understanding of cooperation and strategic partnership among states to collectively solve conflicts and other security challenges have become more significant.

A clear and unequivocal foreign policy is crucial for the Philippine government to manage and effectively respond to security challenges and major power shifts in the region. Much has also been said about the direction of the country’s foreign policy—and how crucial the results of the May 2022 national elections would be.

However, the focus on the US-China strategic competition and the renewed tensions in the West Philippine Sea has resulted in various assessments and policy recommendations on how the Philippines should navigate the current geopolitical environment.

In my latest special policy paper entitled “A Responsive and Strategic Foreign Policy Outlook in an Interconnected and Multipolar World,” I made a comprehensive assessment of the country’s current foreign policy, as well as the key factors and trends that have continued to shape its priorities and overall direction.

Geopolitical risks, the impact of the current administration’s foreign policy shift, as well as the interest of the Filipino people, are important factors that need to be considered in formulating and advancing the country’s foreign policy in the coming years. Moreover, economic diplomacy and the establishment of long-term strategic partnerships with like-minded states are important opportunities that the next administration should initiate.

Given the increasing interconnectedness of states and the uncertainties in the evolving geopolitical environment, the Philippines must reassess and develop a foreign policy that is future-oriented, strategic, and responsive. This will allow the country to not only safeguard its national security and strategic interests but also to position itself and create a space wherein it can contribute to the conduct of regional and global affairs.

Multilateral cooperation and strategic partnerships should also be prioritized to minimize geopolitical risks and collectively solve existing security challenges in the region. In this context, the first-ever 2+2 meeting between Japan and the Philippines is a significant step in this direction.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. and Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana recently met with their Japanese counterparts in Tokyo to strengthen coordination in response to regional and global challenges, as well as to reaffirm their commitment to advancing shared values and interests, including the realization of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”

Similarly, the 37th iteration of the Balikatan exercise between the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the US military is also a crucial initiative for the Philippines. Despite the current administration’s past eagerness to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement, the conclusion of these two-week military exercises signals the continued relevance of the alliance between the Philippines and the United States.

The May 9 elections provide the opportunity for the country to re-evaluate the direction of its foreign policy along with its agenda concerning our sovereignty and territorial integrity in the West Philippine Sea.

The next set of Filipino leaders should prioritize and advance a foreign policy based on the interests of the Filipino people.

The next president and the new administration must implement policies and initiatives that will enable the country to navigate and adapt to geopolitical complexities in the region while advancing national development and strategic interests in a dynamic international order.

Who among the candidates is most qualified and inclined to step up to this crucial task? Who will set a clear foreign policy direction, protect our interests, and improve our esteem in the community of nations?

Let us use our voting power to install the right leaders for our nation.

This article was originally published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer Commentary.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s