PH friend to everyone, enemy to no one: Esperon

MANILA The Duterte government is adopting an independent foreign policy and a diplomatic stance on national security issues amid current global policy settings, where the Philippines is “a friend to everyone and an enemy to no one”.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. pointed this out, as he outlined the security challenges the country is facing in a keynote speech at the Third Katipunan Conference held at the University of the Philippine Law Center on Tuesday.

Esperon said the administration was taking on creative and innovative approaches to addressing long-standing and emerging security issues and concerns, particularly, the West Philippine Sea, the Philippine Rise, cyber-security, climate change, and the peace and order situation in Mindanao.

Esperon said amid accelerating strategic competition and shifting power dynamics among great powers, such as China, Russia, Japan, Australia, the United States, and India, the government had adopted an independent foreign policy, where the Philippines was friendly to all countries.

He said the conduct of marine scientific research in the Philippine Rise should be a “whole of the world” initiative since it would benefit the global population.

But he stressed the research should also be within the framework of an independent foreign policy.

On Tuesday, the University of the Philippines’ Maritime Science Institute admitted to the Senate they left Chinese researchers to explore the Philippine Rise despite their permit requiring them to conduct the study in the presence of Filipino contingents.

The Philippine Rise or Benham Rise is a protected food supply exclusive zone located east of Dinapigue town in Isabela province in the Philippines’ Luzon island.

The national security adviser said the Philippines would go on with its diplomatic engagements with China, especially in the joint development and management of natural resources in the West Philippine Sea.

Again, he stressed, this would all be without compromising national interest.

Esperon said the diplomatic engagements would cover marine protected areas, marine peace parks, regional fishery management organization or multilateral fishery arrangements, and aquaculture.

As for the peace and order situation in Mindanao, Esperon advocated for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law to establish a more representative and responsive autonomous government, continuation of development initiatives that would curb poverty and minimize the threat of violent extremism and radicalization in the country.

He added the country has invested in research and development on the impacts of climate change, as the phenomenon could contribute to the factors of group conflict and social instability.

He further pointed out that the country needs to enhance its cyber-security systems to protect processes and data against cyber attacks, which could do harm to a person or a nation’s infrastructure.

Source: Philippine News Agency