Philippine foreign policy swings like 'pendulum,' diplomat says


Posted at Oct 29 2016 09:18 PM | Updated as of Oct 30 2016 01:58 AM

MANILA - Philippine foreign policy swings like a "pendulum" between the United States and China, a senior diplomat said Saturday, as he urged the government to take a more definite stand.

President Rodrigo Duterte has routinely criticized the United States, the country's long-standing ally, while building ties with China, leaving officials to clarify his statements.

"Ang atin lang dapat i-avoid is yung ating foreign policy is magswing into some sort of a pendulum—magswing in one instance to US, magsswing in one instance to China. Parang walang clarity o coherence ang ating foreign policy [We need to avoid having our foreign policy swing like a pendulum, in one instance to the US, in another instance to China. It seems there's no clarity or coherence in our foreign policy]," former Philippine ambassador to the United Nations Lauro Baja said.

During a four-day state visit to China last week, Duterte announced the Philippines' "separation" from the US, saying Washington had unfairly treated Manila.

He later clarified that he was not severing ties with America, while his economic managers said trade relations would stay.

In a speech in Cotabato City on Saturday, Duterte said the Philippines could survive with American aid as China and Russia had offered to help the country.

Baja said Duterte should not set aside the Philippines' victory against China before a United Nations-backed international court, which declared that Beijing had no historic rights to the resource-rich waters.

"Okay lang makipag-usap sa China but always in the context na gagamitin natin yung panalo natin kahit di na natin banggitin yung arbitral decision [It's okay to talk to China, but always in the context of using our victory, even without mentioning the arbitral decision],” Baja said.

Filipino boats have returned to Scarborough Shoal, a rich fishing ground within the Philippines' 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone, after the Chinese Coast Guard left the area, which they occupied since 2012.