‘Agility’ and ‘pragmatism’ key to Philippine foreign policy toward China, not sound bites – Lacson spokesman

‘Agility’ and ‘pragmatism’ key to Philippine foreign policy toward China, not sound bites – Lacson spokesman

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — “Next to the long-standing relationship with the United
States, the Philippines’ most important foreign relationship will be
that of China,” according to Ashley Acedillo, spokesman for
presidential candidate Panfilo “Ping” Lacson.

Reiterating previous pronouncements of Sen. Lacson on the matter,
Acedillo believes that to effectively deal with China on various
fronts, foremost among them in the geopolitical and national security
fronts, the Philippines must be “agile” and “pragmatic.”

“Agility” or to be agile means actively pursuing opportunities not
only to monitor developments in areas of conflict with China, but also
to improve the situation in our maritime domains to better position
the country in any future discussion with the former. This also
requires flexibility in our policy positions, lest we be hemmed in by
ill-thought of or knee-jerk policy pronouncements – or worse still,
“sound bites” – that either tends to limit our options, or confound the
situation.

“Pragmatism” requires both our understanding of what China is and
where it positions itself as well our understanding of what our
capabilities are vis-à-vis how we can promote our national interest
based on these capabilities. One pragmatic approach the Philippines
can pursue are alliances – to “balance” against the economic heft and
military might of China.

“Alliances do not necessarily mean entanglements, where our country’s
foreign policy and national interest becomes subordinate to those of
other countries. History has shown that fruitful and solid
partnerships can be borne out of an alignment of the allied countries’
values and national interests. In the case of the Philippines and its
current and potential alliance partners, these are the values of
democratic governance, the rule of law, parity, and fairness,” noted
Acedillo.

Acedillo further added that it will be naïve, and even dangerous, to
think that our foreign relations with China can be compartmentalized –
that our engagements with them in terms of trade and commerce,
culture, and other non-political or non-security-related matters can
be divorced from our maritime disputes in the West Philippine Sea.

“Remember that China is a country with a 3,000-year history and
culture, with a very vivid memory of having a central place in the
affairs of the world – hence its nickname ‘The Middle Kingdom’. The
next President of the country must grapple with this reality, as well
as the reality that China is waking up again to its status as a
hegemonic giant.”

Acedillo believes that compounding this “China challenge” is the fact
that China has a “President-for-life” in the person of Xi Jinping —
one of the most powerful Chinese leaders since Mao Zedong to assume
the position of head of the Chinese Communist Party and head of state.

“The next President of the Philippines must be able to stand
‘toe-to-toe’ to someone like President Xi, not just in terms of
experience, but also in terms of knowledge and instincts required of
the job of a Chief Executive.”

“Senator Lacson, as President and Commander-in-Chief, can rely on
thirty years of service as a soldier and a policeman (and eventually
Police Chief), a stint in the Cabinet, and almost eighteen years as a
veteran Senator – once called upon to craft the foreign policy of the
country, and eventually to deal with China for the next six years,”
Acedillo further added.

Lacson currently serves as the Chairman, Senate Committee on National
Defense and Security.

(ai/mtvn)

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