MANILA – There is a “moderate” likelihood of political instability in the Philippines this year, a New York-based think-tank said.
The Council on Foreign Relations’ Preventive Priorities Survey evaluates ongoing and potential conflicts based on their likelihood of occurring in the coming year and their impact on US interests.
In the group's survey, it asked foreign policy experts to rank conflicts based on their likelihood of occurring or escalating and their potential impact on U.S. national interests.
The survey said the “growing political instability in the Philippines stemming from opposition to the government’s domestic and foreign policy agenda” falls under its Tier 2 of concerns.
It said there is a “moderate” likelihood for the Philippines to suffer from political instability. Its impact on the US will be “moderate” as well.
Also under Tier 2 of concerns is the potential armed confrontation over disputed maritime areas in the South China Sea between China and other claimants the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan. It said an eruption of violence in the contested waters is likely to draw the United States.
The survey said the likelihood of an armed confrontation erupting in the East and South China Seas is "low," but it said its impact on the US would be “high."
President Rodrigo Duterte continues to enjoy high popularity ratings, amid persistent concerns on his controversial war on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives.
Duterte has dismissed criticisms of his war on drugs, saying it will continue until the last drug pusher is dead.
There are also concerns that the Philippine military might get uncomfortable with Duterte’s decision to cozy up to China and Russia. The Philippine military has for years been maintaining close relations with the US military.
Despite China’s aggressive island-building in the South China Sea, Duterte chose to forge closer ties with China, as he sought to distance the Philippines from the US after the latter criticized his war on drugs.