Business Mirror : PHL foreign policy under BBM: ‘Friends to all, enemy to none’

By Business Mirror

President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. on Thursday outlined the country’s foreign policy under his incoming administration.

In a news briefing, Marcos Jr. defined his foreign policy as an independent one where the Philippines would be a friend to everyone and an enemy to no one.

“I think we have to find an independent foreign policy where we are friends with everyone, that’s the only way. We have to be good neighbors and we asked them to be good neighbors to us as well. It is of mutual benefit to us,” he said.

Amid the ongoing territorial dispute over the islands in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), Marcos Jr. said having better relations would be more judicious as the countries involved are the Philippines’s closest neighbors, citing that China, on its closest part, is only 600 kilometers away from his province Ilocos Norte.

In an interview with CNN Philippines’s The Source on Thursday, Manila’s Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez, Marcos’s first cousin, said it is important for the country to continue to respect all of its long-time allies, while forging or boosting ties with new ones.

Marcos Jr. stressed the importance of forging partnerships with the countries, especially with those in the region and not allowing the territorial dispute to fester and escalate into a severe problem as the WPS is a critical part of trade routes for shipping in the region.

“The partnerships that we make within the region, with Asean, are going to be of critical importance. And that’s why we have to forge partnerships,” he explained.

“It will be the partnerships that will keep things stable,” he continued.

However, the President-elect also assured that the Philippines will not cede a single square millimeter of the country’s maritime and coastal territories but it will be done diplomatically.

“…Considering in the West Philippine Sea that there have been these conflicts, we will not allow a single square millimeter of our maritime, coastal up to 200 meters rights to be trampled upon. How do we do that? We talk to China consistently in a firm voice…We continue to discuss with them the conflicting claims that we have with China and that China has with other Asean members. We need to continue having bilateral contact and communication with China. This is what I mentioned when I talked to President Xi [Jinping] when he called me to congratulate me on winning the elections. I said we have to continue to talk about this. This cannot be allowed to fester and to become more severe in terms of a problem between our two countries,” he said.

Marcos Jr. further said that the arbitral ruling issued by the tribunal in The Hague, which favored the Philippines can be used to assert the country’s territorial rights.

The incoming President also noted that with the world recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, the bilateral partnerships that the Philippines will forge will also play a major role.

“As I told the ambassadors, as we emerge from the pandemic, we have to form alliances because no countries can recover or change the geopolitical situation on their own,” he said.

Last week, ambassadors from different countries, including the United States and neighboring countries in the region, paid a courtesy call to Marcos to convey their countries’ cooperation with his administration and discuss developments in the region. -30-