PH ties based on friendship, not benefits – DFA chief
MANILA, Philippines — Friendship, not material benefits, is the principal foundation of the Philippines’ external relations with other countries, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the 121st founding anniversary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Pasay City, the chief diplomat emphasized the country’s continuing pursuit for an independent foreign policy.
“The basis of our external relations with other countries is, foremost, friendship, and not whatever material benefit we hope to get from them. We scorn talk of mutual benefit first rather than sincere friendship,” Locsin said.
He added that the Philippines would continue to “reassess” its relationships with other countries.
“Even as we pursue new relations with nontraditional allies, we continue to adapt our relations with traditional allies to the changing times,” he said. “But never to their changing fortune: We shall never be opportunists.”
Locsin made his speech comes after President Rodrigo Duterte said that fishing activities by Chinese fishermen in the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) would not be stopped as both countries are “friends.”
Asked if the Philippine government would prevent Chinese fishers from venturing into Philippine territorial waters, the President said: “I don’t think China would do that [stop fishing in Philippine territory]. Why? Because we’re friends.”
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo echoed the President’s remark, saying that allowing the Chinese to fish in the Philippines’ EEZ was out of friendship.
However, opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros pointed out that the friendly ties between the Philippines with China did not allow the President “to surrender our sovereign rights and to disregard our own Constitution and laws amid China’s brazen incursions [on] our territory.”
The Philippine EEZ, the senator said, “is an area where we have exclusive and special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources and other economic activities.”
“The President cannot have a ‘friend zone’ in our own [EEZ],” she further said.
‘Stood our principled ground’
According to Locsin, the Philippines has “not backed down in our pursuit of this independent foreign policy.”
“We have stood our principled ground on various issues such as the return of the Balangiga Bells, the West Philippine Sea, the protection and repatriation of displaced persons (ours and that of other countries), the promotion and protection of the welfare of our overseas workers, the decent treatment of migrant workers, most famously the open-arm reception of refugees — and that garbage thing,” his speech went on.
Locsin was referring to the tons of waste from Canada that were illegally dumped in the Philippines several years back. The waste was shipped back to its point of origin last May.
(Editor: Alexander T. Magno)
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