More nations joining our call for regional peace and stability

by Ambassador B. Romualdez

PBBM meets with Siemens AG President and CEO Dr. Roland Busch, who expressed his support to the Philippines’ bid for digital transformation and is open to providing training for Filipino workers and businesses adapting to modern technologies.” | Photo PCO

There is no question that President Marcos Jr.’s foreign trips are enhancing economic cooperation and strengthening our security relations with like-minded nations that believe in the ultimate goal of maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

During the President’s visit to Canberra in February, Australia and the Philippines signed several memoranda of understanding to enhance defense and maritime cooperation, with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese saying they will “collaborate even more closely to protect our shared vision for the region, including in civil maritime security, marine environment protection, maritime domain awareness and promoting respect for international law.”

In his meaningful address to the Australian Parliament, President Marcos highlighted shared concerns on defense and security. He underscored the need to “join forces, together with our partners, in the face of threats to the rule of law, to stability and to peace.” He also thanked Australia for standing with the Philippines and consistently and unequivocally supporting our maritime claims.

Australia also announced $42 million in funding for maritime security at the recent Australia-ASEAN Summit in Melbourne, with Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong acknowledging that “what happens in the South China Sea, in the Taiwan Strait, in the Mekong subregion, across the Indo-Pacific, affects us all.”

Germany also assured the Philippines of its continued support and underscored the importance of ensuring freedom of navigation and upholding international laws, in particular the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea during the President’s working visit to Berlin.

In his remarks, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he believed it was important for everyone to adhere to the legislation that is in place, emphasizing that Germany supports the Philippines in ensuring that rights are being protected.

The President’s state visit to the Czech Republic also demonstrated the European nation’s close ties with the Philippines, with Czech President Petr Pavel unequivocally stating that about the South China Sea issue, they “fully support the Philippines when it comes to their entitlement to free movement of goods and also very intense support because that’s a principle that not only we all respect, but which also secures global and regional stability.”

To those small-minded, “penny wise, pound foolish” individuals with zero understanding of geopolitics who continue to criticize the President’s trips without seriously thinking how important presidential global diplomacy is in getting as many nations as possible to join us in our multilateral approach to peace and stability in our region, I say to them – think about the grave dangers we face in the South China Sea and our fisherfolk’s livelihood. This is not about the US vs China but our survival as a nation.

During his foreign visits and continuing meetings and engagements, the President is doing a tremendous job of strengthening diplomatic, security, and economic ties with the international community. He is simultaneously convincing foreign investors to consider the Philippines an investment hub. Economic security is another dimension of survival, and we should not depend on one country alone.

“These enhanced partnerships and the support of like-minded nations help us rest easy at night. As former president George W. Bush once said, you are either with us or against us. And from where I am sitting, I take comfort in the fact that there are certainly a lot more nations that are with us rather than against us.”

Undoubtedly, the United States continues to be our top ally, as demonstrated by the arrival of a trade delegation led by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who said $1 billion in investment pledges from the American companies that joined the delegation are “already underway,” while some are “underway shortly.”

Secretary Raimondo assured that “these US companies are committed. They have signed agreements to move forward with the investments.”

She also acknowledged the President’s commitment to making the necessary changes in the regulatory structure, cutting red tape, fighting corruption, and being transparent, saying that “all these things are steps in the right direction, which will make the Philippines an even more attractive place to do business for American companies.”

The commitment made by President Biden during the visit of President Marcos to Washington in May has undoubtedly been fulfilled with the arrival of the high-level, first-of-its-kind US Presidential Trade and Investment Mission that brought some of the largest companies in the United States. The US Department of Commerce also disclosed that American companies that could not join the trade delegation have also signified their intent to undertake projects in the Philippines or expand their investments.

Certainly, we can expect more business to come into the Philippines. A lot of activities are also going to take place, starting with the visit of US State Secretary Antony Blinken – his second visit to the country – with the discussion to focus on economic cooperation and resiliency, which are key components in attaining economic prosperity, which is essential to national security. The visit of Secretary Blinken reaffirms the alliance between the US and the Philippines.

When I spoke before the American Chamber of Commerce earlier this week during their first-ever AmCham PH Security Summit, I assured those present that more and more like-minded countries are joining our efforts to maintain peace and security in the region. We are facing diverse and complex security threats, but we are boosting bilateral partnerships, actively engaging in multilateral mechanisms, and highlighting the critical role of multilateralism in thwarting these threats.

These enhanced partnerships and the support of like-minded nations help us rest easy at night. As former president George W. Bush once said, you are either with or against us. And from where I am sitting, I take comfort in the fact that there are undoubtedly many more nations with us rather than against us.

Email: babeseyeview@gmail.com

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