Security, foreign relations experts push for diplomacy in West Philippine Sea

Top national security and foreign relations experts underscored the importance of dialogue and diplomacy in resolving disputes and preventing war in the West Philippines Sea (WPS).

“I think [President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.] has paved the way for that future trajectory of where we’re going. So, he’s saying, ‘Let’s just continue dialoguing, constructive dialogue, and the like, and diplomacy,'” National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos said in a statement.

Carlos said, “You don’t choose. Play smart. Define what your goals are as a nation. Play your game well. This is now a new Philippines. A newfound confidence about who we are.”

For her part, former Ambassador and former Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rosario Manalo also said that diplomatic solutions are the way to prevent escalation of the present state of affairs.

“The value of diplomacy when it comes to the blue economy is to prevent war. War brings about the end of our existence,” Manalo said.

“There are three modes of settling disputes. The first one is called the diplomatic process… the second is through legal action… and the third is through arbitration,” the former ambassador said.

Likewise, former Philippine National Police (PNP) General and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong lamented that his city has been “impacted indirectly by the ongoing issue of the West Philippine Sea.”

“The only way we will be able to resolve the issue is through dialogue, constant dialogues, low-key dialogues. Besides, our only objective there is to allow our fishermen to go to that area and proceed with their livelihood. And second, probably a joint exploration on the oil. There was a study made by the US Geological Survey stating therein that there are about a billion barrels of oil and trillion natural gas in the West Philippine Sea,” Magalong said.

Former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, for his part, said that it takes a “lot of skilled diplomacy to solve that, but one thing is undeniable – the livelihood of our fisherfolk is primary because this is survival for them.”

Teodoro said that “multilateralism basically is really important in the sense that it prevents a stronger country, in theory, from bullying a smaller one. Now, having a bilateral approach would mean the more powerful one will prevail.”

“So, the balance will be we continue to develop our capabilities in creating a credible deterrent against expansionism, but we continue to pursue those activities which can redound mutually to the benefit of our interests of both people, particularly economically,” Teodoro said. — DVM, GMA Integrated News

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