PH may be left in ‘perilous road’ with China, says ex-DFA chief
The Philippines may have lost its advantage from the United Nations-backed arbitration ruling when the Association of Southeast Nations (Asean), with President Rodrigo Duterte as chairman, chose to evade the issue of Beijing’s reclamation and militarization in the South China Sea, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said Sunday.
“Our government–in its desire to fully and quickly accommodate our aggressive northern neighbor–may have left itself negotiating a perilous road with little or no room to rely on brake power and a chance to shift gears,” Del Rosario in a statement.
Del Rosario was reacting to Duterte’s Chairman statement released after the 30th Asean summit in Manila, which failed to mention the Philippines’ legal victory against China in a The Hague-based court last year that invalidated Beijing’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea.
Duterte’s final message read:” We took note of concerns expressed by some Leaders over recent developments in the area. We reaffirmed the importance of the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercising self-restraint in the conduct of activities, and avoiding actions that may further complicate the situation, and pursuing the peaceful resolution of disputes, without resorting to the threat or use of force.”
Aside from the Philippines, other Asean member-states with overlapping claims with China were Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
Since his election in May last year, Duterte has forged a “recalibrated” foreign policy that veered away from the Philippines’ longtime treaty ally, the United States, and shifted toward China. The President has repeatedly said that he would not bring up the Philippines’ win in the Hague ruling against China.
The two countries are set to hold bilateral talks on the South China Sea this May./RGA
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