President Rodrigo Duterte is consistent with his foreign policy direction to be friends to all and enemy to none, with his fresh vow to continue engaging with nations regardless of their “political persuasions.”
“We shall continue to reach out to all nations regardless of their prevailing political persuasions or proximity to or distance from our shores so long as these nations wish us well,” he said during his 3rd State of the Nation Address on Monday.
At the same time, he underscored the continuing pursuit of an independent foreign policy.
“On international relations, we shall continue to assert and pursue an independent foreign policy. Our long-term national development and national security goals come first,” he said.
Present at the SONA venue, Batasang Pambansa Complex, were members of the diplomatic corps in the country, including United States Ambassador Sung Kim, French Ambassador Nicolas Galey, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, European Union Ambassador Franz Jessen and Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev.
Duterte also hailed the Philippine chairmanship to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2017, which he described fortified Manila’s ties with its “friends” from the bloc, particularly Indonesia and Malaysia in their collective bid against piracy and terrorism.
“Our stronger bonds with our ASEAN friends have made possible our trilateral border patrols with Indonesia and Malaysia, which has since then put out of business sea pirates, piracy and other terrorists who used to infest our shared seas,” he said.
“This is a testament to the readiness of our country and our good neighbors to make regional peace and security our shared responsibility,” he added.
He also lauded the “successful” hosting of the bloc’s 50th anniversary and the 31st ASEAN Summit in the Philippines which caught international attention on the capabilities of Filipinos.
It showcased not only the renowned hospitality in the Philippines but also Filipinos’ organizational capabilities and artistic talents, Duterte said.
In a pre-SONA commentary, Integrated Development Studies Institute (IDSI) said with a “fairly peaceful and stable region,” along with the country “finally making bold, political, economic, and environmental steps,” Manila actually has a shot to catch up with its Asian neighbors.
“Duterte’s efforts have gained the respect and even admiration of Asian leaders, most recently from Indonesia, Vietnam, South Korean, Japan etc., even the leaders of the two major powers US and China,” it said. PNA