MANILA- The Philippines should look at pursuing an interdependent foreign policy with the United States as a security blanket and China as an economic blanket, a former ambassador said.
Speaking on ANC’s Talkback on Monday, former ambassador Apolinario Lozada said “beautiful relations” with the two superpowers would benefit the Philippines well.
“We still have to look at the US as our security blanket and we have to look at China as our economic blanket. If we can have beautiful relations with both countries then we can sleep well,” he said.
With the nearing state visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to China, Lozada said putting China as a top economic partner would be more beneficial for the Philippines, citing the strong purchasing power of the country.
But he also warned that improving trade relations with Beijing may loosen ties with traditional partners to the detriment of the Philippines.
“Based on his (Duterte) pronouncements, he would really like to put China on top. While you are dealing and making China your number one, you are forgetting your traditional partner,” Lozada said.
Albay representative Joey Salceda added that improving relations with China is necessary since the country needs the former's infrastructure capacity, renewal energy and tourism.
He said that upon the assumption of President Duterte into office, the former Davao mayor has awoken Filipinos from their “cognitive dissonance” with the US.
“President Duterte is raising economic realities and turning them into policies,” Salceda said.
Lozada added that during the Aquino administration, there was little to no movement in Chinese investments in the country, but trade relations “warmed up” when Duterte’s term began.
DEFINE 'INDEPENDENT FOREIGN POLICY'
The former ambassador, however, warned of the need to define the kind of independent foreign policy Duterte is eyeing for the country.
“Independent foreign policy will really be supported by trust. How are you going to implement that policy?” he said.
Lozada also explained that the upcoming state visit of Duterte to China should focus on “building trust” first to be able to address personal interests in the future, particularly the issue on the West Philippine Sea.
Before leaving for Brunei on Sunday, President Duterte assured the public that there will be no bargaining of territories in China.
"We do not bargain anything there. We continue to insist that it is ours," Duterte said. "I will be very careful not to bargain for after all, I could not give what is not mine."