Armed Forces chief calls for use of ‘smart power’ in int’l conflicts


MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines must use “smart power” in dealing with neighbors and defending territories, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Jessie Dellosa said Friday at the close of this year’s Balikatan military exercises with the United States.

“Today’s emerging challenges, in the context of the dynamics in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, require pragmatism and the use of smart power,” the AFP chief said in what sounded like an allusion to the country’s tense relations with China.

“It is apparent that a practical blend of the concepts of ‘might is right’ and ‘right is might’ should be explored, shared among friends and allies, and eventually put to good use,” he said, reading a prepared speech before an audience of American and Filipino troops.

“For the Philippines, striking a workable mix may also require increasing capacities to defend its dignity and its rights as a sovereign nation,” he added.

Dellosa suggested that diplomacy must come from a position of relative strength.

“While diplomacy is the normative path to tread, it should be matched with capabilities to attain stability, security and development. That is the prevailing logic of Balikatan and the strategic partnership of our forces. It is what it is. It will be into the future,” he said.

The two-week Balikatan exercises commenced on April 16 involving some 4,500 American troops and 2,300 Filipino soldiers  spread out in several towns, including war games in Puerto Princesa City on a bay facing sensitive pockets of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

But the annual joint exercises attracted more attention than usual because of a continuing diplomatic spat with China over certain disputed territories, including a standoff between Philippine and Chinese forces at Panatag, known internationally as Scarborough Shoal.

The standoff followed a series of other confrontations in the contested waters with both sides trading accusations of intrusions on each other’s territories, particularly the Spratlys, a reputedly resource-rich chain of islets and reefs claimed by the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia.

Defense Undersecretary Honorio Azcueta, who delivered Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin’s message during the ceremony, said in an interview that the Filipino soldiers gained “some professional skills” from the exercises.

Asked about the upcoming meetings of Gazmin and Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario in the United States, he said the talks would revolve around “our existing treaty with the purpose of enhancing our relations.”

“The topics will be pertaining to defense and security and some economic and political matters,” he said.

Asked if the Panatag standoff would be raised in the talks, Azcueta replied: “We are concerned and the Philippines and the United States will be tackling how we can maintain the freedom of navigation and unimpeded commerce in that area.”

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  • Dynamic

    He’s provably talking about the God in man in the physical who undoubtedly posessed the “smart power”…

    • hukom2

      Probability… possibility… think about non negation my friend, finding one stupid solution is more comparable to magnanimity, our best defense to thwart the enemy.

  • Bienvenido

    The reefs and shoals nearer the Philippines within a 200 NM distance from their nearest coastal islands are considered part of Philippine territory, part of Philippine patrimony and its Exclusive Economic Zone.  Whatever are the reasons of the Chinese to claim waters more than 800 NM from their shores, without a vestige of exercising political and executive jurisdiction over them is to bully the possessor thereof, hoping that the weaker country can be cowed under the pretext of “might is right” and “right is might.”  The free world does not operate on this philosophy.  The age of conquest has long been gone and history had been rewritten many times.  Today, countries have turned from barbarism into a peaceful resolving of conflicts.  We have determined our relationships with each other as independent countries with their own territory,  people, resources and governments that to employ “might” to make things look “right” is not only reprehensible and condemnable but odious to the freedom, peace and understanding between nations.  If push comes to shove, the free and peace loving peoples of the world have to use means available to safeguard even with their blood arduously fought for liberties, rights and freedom (navigation, travel, commerce and trade, sovereignty…).

  • InterPoll

    Such use of vague B.S. terms like “smart power,” from a supposed leader will only confuse the troops & the populace. Dellosa sounds like a politician. He should be more explicit and direct with what he wants to communicate and avoid ambiguity. Otherwise, the phrase is open to different interpretations – smart bombs to some; smart phones to others; or simply that he’s just being a smart aasss.

  • Jpb

    Coming from a Philippine military officer, I hope it is not just empty talk. Its budget still comes from the government and cannot achieve that so called “smart power” without the go signal of the political leadership(hopefully not the corrupt ones). The military should focus more on what they have and what they can do and leave the diplomatic talks to the politicians. If the Philippine leadership is advised properly on our military capabilities( sadly to say is one of the weakest and most corrupt one in the world), then this standoff in the sea should not have happened.

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