MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr delivered a speech on Wednesday morning, November 7, where he explained at length the Duterte administration’s foreign policy.
Locsin made his remarks at the first vin d’honneur he hosted for members of the diplomatic corps. The Department of Foreign Affairs provided reporters with a copy of Locsin’s speech as delivered.
Read the full text of his speech below:
Your Excellency, the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia;
Excellencies and members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Colleagues in the Department of Foreign Affairs;
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Thank you all for being here for the first Vin d’Honneur I am hosting.
Your presence today greatly encourages the Department to perform its constitutional mandate to pursue an independent foreign policy for the Philippines. You know it already. It is a refinement of the earlier one which stood us in good stead: “Friends to all, enemies to none.” But we are moving on to a refinement which addresses changing realities. It is now “Friends to friends, enemies to enemies, and worse enemies to false friends.”
For the past two years, the DFA led national efforts to advance Philippine interests in the global arena, guided by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, our country’s chief foreign policy architect under the Constitution.
I am not here to reinvent the wheel; just to grease it and steer it away from potholes and ravines. I shall continue to implement the President’s directive to provide a “comfortable and secure life” for all Filipinos, in every aspect of the country’s diplomacy and foreign policy.
When I addressed DFA’s personnel last week, I told them how a truly independent foreign policy is being pursued by the Duterte Administration. “It is not independent foreign policy,” I said, “if you simply switch the master before whom you are kneeling; you are still on your knees. Independent foreign policy means getting off your knees and on your feet and standing up for our country. That is true independence.”
Perhaps it is fitting to cite some examples on how the Philippines puts into practice its brand of diplomacy.
Last July, President Duterte signed the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The law recognizes and realizes the aspirations of everyone living in Muslim Mindanao – be she Muslim, Christian or of its indigenous peoples – while preserving and strengthening our unbreakable bond as one nation under God, sovereign and free, in one indivisible Philippine Republic. We are grateful to our partners in the international community for their solid support and generous investment in this vision of peace through union in diversity with strength.
We have begun rebuilding the lives and communities of our Muslim brothers and sisters in Marawi. We took it back in less than 6 months, when it took 6 years for the West to take back Raqqa. It has been admiringly described as a textbook perfect military victory. Our deep and abiding gratitude goes to the powers who helped us on the ground and from the air win that fight.
The episode showed the transnational nature of terrorism and confirmed that this scourge is the most pressing threat to peace and security anywhere in the world. Thus, the fight against terrorism should unite us all and requires our utmost sincere cooperation. Let no one state think that international terrorism is something it can pick up, use, and discard. It sticks to the hand that shields it, and eats into the flesh, until it cannot be removed without amputation.
As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year, the Philippines renews its solemn responsibility to protect its population, not only against the abuses of the State’s own forces, but first and foremost against crimes that dehumanize their victims such as drugs, trafficking, and terrorism with its utter disregard for human life and dignity.
A state’s first, and foremost, and overriding responsibility is to protect the law-abiding against the lawless; and the innocent against those who threaten their safety and wellbeing. To that responsibility my President has made an iron, unwavering. and total commitment.
Therefore, to quote Chen Yi – one of China’s Immortals I had the infinite honor to meet when I was young – “Despite the barking of the dogs in the night,” he said when I referred to Western criticism of the New China, “the caravan moves on in the night.”
Notwithstanding the barking and the flying brickbats from those adversely affected by our earnest and iron commitment to the common safety, I thank the international community for its support as the Philippines won its bid to keep its seat at the United Nations Human Rights Council. I congratulate my New York Permanent Mission for their tireless work and inexhaustible talent and ask you to give them a round of applause.
It has perhaps finally dawned that the responsibility to protect starts with protecting the good against the bad although it does not end there; and that far from sovereign states being in the dock as presumptively guilty in the violation of human rights, sovereign states with their enormous power to protect and punish, are still the best guarantee of respect and vindication of human rights at home and abroad. Just ask them before condemning them. After all the United Nations and its agencies is a collection of sovereignties. It is not itself a sovereign collective.
With more than 10 million overseas Filipinos, representing about 10% of the Philippine population, we welcome the approved text of the Global Compact on Migration which is anchored on human rights and – this is the Philippine contribution to the endeavor – “an unwavering commitment to decency as the first principle of the protection that states should extend to all who cross its borders in peace regardless of the legality of their sojourn.” We look forward to its successful adoption in Marrakesh this December.
The Philippines, with the rest of ASEAN, strives to do its part to maintain peace and security in our region, even as we stand ready to do the same in the rest of the world. We have outlawed nuclear weapons so that it shall be one of many other regions from which no nuclear weapons can be launched, thereby giving no excuse for their use in the settlement of disputes. When we combine most of the world’s regions as weapons-free regions, well, it seems to me, there will never be the flimsiest excuse to use them and there will be far fewer places from which to launch them.
Zero nuclear capability notwithstanding, our handling of the West Philippine Sea issue continues to produce concrete results at no cost to our dignity though with some taxing of our patience.
The country was able to advance its interests, derive economic benefit, and contribute to peace and stability in the South China Sea, without surrendering an iota of Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights, not retreating one inch from its rightful and inalienable ownership of everything within the lawful territorial reach of our sovereignty.
There are disputes and differences; more may arise. That is inevitable in the politics among nations.
These differences may disappear in time. They may be resolved in a timely fashion before conflict breaks out. Or they may never be resolved. But, as I said before the wise and elegant Chinese foreign minister, these differences need not stand in the way of mutually beneficial cooperation in other areas of common endeavor.
While recognizing differences and never compromising one’s respective core interests, the Philippines has the coordinating role for the next three years in discussions and in exploring avenues for maritime cooperation, towards the adoption of a common Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. Reefs underwater when the tide is in, and jutting out a few feet when the tide is out, need not block our mutually beneficial endeavors. Through respectful dialogue, we are happy to announce as we cross our fingers in hope, that we are moving forward with astonishing amity in negotiations toward a Code of Conduct.
Your Excellencies, although much has been accomplished, we do not fool ourselves that there is less to strive for. Our countries’ common safety, progress, prosperity, and security are poured into a cracked wineglass. We do our best to hold it carefully together lest it shatter; but it leaks just the same. So the endeavor to keep it full is endless. But that is politics among nations.
As with all foreign ministries in all civilized states, we in Foreign Affairs, take as our first and foremost responsibility the protection of our nationals abroad, as if they were not just like our citizens at home but our very country in microcosm abroad. Every single one is our country and holds its dignity as the first Republic in Asia, the inspiration of freedom struggles of all Asians from China to the Khyber Pass.
The whole Department is mobilized in sync with the express directive of the President to ensure the welfare, and proactively prevent and immediately address abuses against our migrant workers. Please help us. In all these endeavors, Your Excellencies, we look forward to a more fruitful partnership between the Philippines and the countries you represent.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, may I now ask you to join me in a toast – to the excellent bonds of friendship between the Philippines and your countries. Mabuhay! It is not the best wine but it is not bad. As we in the diplomatic corps know from experience it is what we can afford and it will do. It is not the wine but the friendship based on trust in whose honor we drink this wine. At the UN, you must have heard, we were proud to show that we can say everything I have just said at great length, but in under 3 minutes. So thank you for your patience. And now enjoy.