VIEW FROM CALUMPANG: Diego Cagahastian

PH Officials' Balancing Act

Jan 27, 2023, 3:43 AM
Diego S. Cagahastian

Diego S. Cagahastian


IN connection with the celebration of the Chinese (Lunar) New Year, it was reported that despite territorial conflicts between the Philippines and China, Vice President Sara Duterte is hopeful that both countries will enjoy tighter bilateral ties based on “mutual trust and mutual respect.”

During her Chinese New Year video message to the Chinese Embassy in Manila’s celebration on Monday, Jan. 16, the VP took note of what the New Year and the recent state visit of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. meant for the countries’ relationship.

“With the President’s successful and substantive state visit to China earlier this month, I look forward to having closer bilateral ties between the Philippines and China grounded not only in our long and colorful history but also based on mutual trust and mutual respect,” she said.

Meanwhile, President Bongbong Marcos said that the Philippines is in a very “precarious balancing act” with its ties with the United States and China.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal in Davos, Marcos said the Philippines has been working on ways to avoid being “trampled” by the two competing superpowers, citing an African proverb, which states: When elephants fight, the only one that gets trampled is the grass.

“We are the grass in this situation. We don’t want to get trampled,” he said.

Marcos said the Philippines is increasing its cooperation with the US and developing mechanisms to defuse tension with China amid the intense geopolitical rivalry in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Chief Executive also saw the strengthening of military relations with the United States, with that superpower's use of PH military bases under the EDCA.

He added that the discussion about defense cooperation with Japan is continuing and that the country will continue working with Australia, Japan and South Korea.

President Marcos has also ruled out the reopening of the former US military bases in Clark and Subic, saying it was against the country’s Constitution to allow foreign bases on its soil.

Meanwhile, Vice President Sara expressed confidence that the New Year would “mark a fresh start and rejuvenation for many of us.”

“For some, this presents an opportunity for growth and advancement leaping forward to new and more exciting stages in their lives,” Duterte said.
“For others, like myself, the New Year represents a moment of reflection on our past actions and a chance to remind ourselves of our tasks ahead,” she added.

The VP extended her “heartfelt congratulations and best wishes on this auspicious season of the Chinese new year and join the entire country in celebrating this event with our Chinese-Filipino siblings and Chinese friends.”

Duterte congratulated Chinese Ambassador to Manila Huang Xilian for leading the embassy’s Lunar New Year celebration.

This year, the Chinese New Year falls on Sunday, Jan. 22, as determined by the lunar calendar.


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