Friend to all, enemy to none? Foreign policy experts say PH can’t be neutral
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had said that the country will be a “friend to all and enemy to none.” But for foreign policy experts, the Philippines cannot have a neutral foreign policy.
Authorities on foreign policy were asked in a forum on Thursday if such an approach makes sense to give strategic guidance to a foreign policy that focuses on national interest.
At least two experts said they believe the Philippines cannot be a “friend to all and enemy to none.”
“It’s more challenging for the Philippines — given the fact that we cannot be friends to all and enemy to none — because of the simple reason that we have a formal treaty alliance,” Stratbase ADR Institute trustee and program convenor Renato de Castro said during the Prioritizing the National Interest in Philippine Foreign Policy forum.
“We cannot be neutral because we have a treaty alliance with the United States (US) and of course, we have a security partnership,” he continued.
The Philippines has a Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the US. Under the MDT, the two countries should provide mutual support during foreign attacks.
Meanwhile, International Development and Security Cooperation President and Founder Chester Cabalza said that Marcos’ approach is a “neutrality policy.”
“For me the ‘friends to all, enemy to none’ is a simple saying of a neutrality policy. But of course, we cannot afford a neutrality policy until 2028,” he said in the same forum.
Being the president, Marcos, whose term will end in June 2028, is the main architect of the country’s foreign policy.
“You cannot be with two partners, that is impossible to do, and it’s going to be a headache to the Philippines. So, until such a time we come to a realization that we think that one is the best for us, then that’s the time we will decide on our foreign policy that will suit the interest of the country,” Cabalza pointed out.
In his first State of the Nation Address in July 2022, Marcos said that the Philippines “will stand firm in our independent foreign policy, with the national interest as our primordial guide.”
The President added that the country “will be a good neighbor — always looking for ways to collaborate and cooperate with the end goal of mutually beneficial outcomes.”