MANILA — University of the Philippines professor Roland Simbulan said the Philippine government should learn from Vietnam which has maintained an apparent neutrality amid conflicting posturings by the United States and China in the Pacific region.
Simbulan noted that even if Vietnam shares borders and maintains economic relations with China, it also has maritime issues with Beijing.
“Kasi alam niya na may nagko-compete na dalawang powers, and you want to make yourself stronger, huwag kang masyadong dumikit sa isa to the disadvantage of the other,” Simbulan said.
Bayan President Nato Reyes also advised the Philippine government not to be too dependent on the United States and turn its sights on other countries as well, especially those countries which do not intend to put up military bases in the country.
Reyes noted the call once made by former senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani to strengthen the maritime capabilities of the Philippines through a robust ship-building industry.
“Palakasin natin ang sarili natin to be able to have the means to defend our country,” Reyes said.
Simbulan and Reyes were the speakers at a forum on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement at the University of the Philippines Diliman.
While EDCA sites are being built in the country, Reyes similarly noted that the Marcos administration is friendly both to the US and China.
“It appears Bongbong is more inclined towards the US but he is not abandoning China, pag political and economic ang preference niya ang US, pero meron din siyang taya sa China, merong RCEP (Regional)," Reyes said.
Reyes meantime noted that Bayan will hold Independence Day protest actions in front of the Chinese and US embassies to assert real independence from both countries.
“Five days from now Independence Day, yung ating paggunita sa Araw ng Kalayaan ay magaganap sa panahon na sa West Philippine Sea, inaagaw ang ating exclusive economic zone ng China tapos sa loob naman ng Pilipinas tinatayuan naman tayo ng base militar mula Cagayan, Isabela, hanggang Mindanao,” he said.