Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 25) — There was a significant improvement in the way the government is dealing with issues involving the West Philippine Sea under the leadership of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., according to experts.
“I think we are dealing with the conflict in the West Philippine Sea issue now in a better position,” political scientist Cleve Arguelles told CNN Philippines’ The Source.
Political analyst Froilan Calilung agreed that this is one of the current administration’s strongest points.
International relations expert Chester Cabalza also pointed out the Philippines now has “robust alliance and strategic partnerships” compared with the previous administration.
He was referring to the stronger ties the current administration is making with other nations like the United States, Japan, and Australia – a turnaround from the Duterte government’s approach.
Like-minded countries have repeatedly supported Manila and condemned Beijing for its increasing aggression in the disputed waters.
Given this support, Cabalza said this is the best time to have a dialogue with China so we convey to them “what do we want, what would be our perceptions.”
Specifically, he said he has yet to see a dialogue between the two countries discussing the 2016 arbitral ruling that ruled in favor of Manila and invalidated Beijing’s claims over the disputed waters.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently had a phone call wherein they have agreed on the need for a dialogue between the two countries to address issues.
Xinhua reported that Wang “warned that if the Philippine side misjudges the situation, goes its own way, or even colludes with ill-intentioned external forces to continue to stir up troubles, China will defend its rights in accordance with law and respond resolutely.”
Marcos has said the Philippines needs a paradigm shift in how it deals with China’s aggressions in the West Philippine Sea as diplomatic efforts are going “in a poor direction.”
Philippine authorities have also said a new strategy in protecting the West Philippine Sea will soon be implemented.
Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. also said the Philippines remains a friend to all “as long as they don’t take what is ours.”