MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto urged the Philippine government on Tuesday, December 20, to maintain its independence from both the US and China as the Philippines asserts an independent foreign policy.
Rebalancing ties with other countries, he said, should not mean that "we dump old friends for new suitors."
"Hindi rin naman maganda na mga Chinese na lang ang papalit sa mga Amerikano. Ang mas maganda meron tayong sariling kakayahan (It's not good that the Chinese will replace the Americans. It's better to develop our own capabilities)," Recto said in a statement.
"Our motto should be, 'Friend to all but subservient to none.' In other words, amity to all, hostility to no one," the senator said.
He added, "What's the advantage of running away from the claws of the American eagle only to rush to the embrace of a Chinese or Russian bear?" (READ: Duterte admin 'independent' from US, 'bullied' by China?)
Recto issued this statement after Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr said "there is nothing that we can do" about China's reported militarization of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). President Rodrigo Duterte, for his part, said he wants to repeal or abrogate the Philippines' Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US.
In his statement, Recto added that "whatever changes in our relationship with the Americans," the Philippines should make sure to maintain the "humanitarian assistance and disaster response" component of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US.
"It is to our country's benefit that such an arrangement will continue to be in force," Recto said.
Reacting to the Duterte administration's recent statements on foreign policy, former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario said the Philippines appears "well on the way to placing the country's future" in China's hands. – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.