Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday urged the Philippine government to once and for all define its strategy in the West Philippine Sea, saying it must lay out a clear strategy for maintaining the country’s territorial right to the contested area.
In a manifestation during the confirmation hearing of the ad-interim appointments of fifty (50) General and Flag Officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Cayetano said the country lacks a well-defined strategy because the approach switches every time there is a new administration.
“Kung gusto ng isang presidenteng sobra-sobrang pro-China, gusto ng isa sobra-sobrang anti-China, gusto ng isa sobra-sobrang pro-US, y’ung isa anti-US, ay parang pwede sa ating bansa,” he observed.
“If every administration iba ang strategy natin, that’s a recipe for failure,” he added.
Cayetano said rather than just allowing the chief advisory unit of the President to craft and implement the strategy, the military leaders of the country must “continue to be critical thinkers” and involve themselves, along with the country’s diplomats, in the decision-making process.
“Yes, they have to follow orders kung ano ang strategy na inilahad ng commander-in-chief, [however] in other countries, the military establishment is so strong that the swing of the [command] ng Pangulo sa strategy is also limited. Sa atin, parang unlimited,” he said.
Cayetano, who served as Foreign Affairs Secretary from 2017 to 2018, said it would also help if the country would make a long-term plan that will serve as a blueprint for the next one hundred or even one thousand years.
“When I was in the DFA, I kept on telling our people in the DFA to stop complaining na ang China may one-hundred (100) year plan at one-thousand (1,000) year plan and [Instead] start making the Philippine one-hundred (100) year plan and the Philippine one-thousand (1,000) year plan,” he said.
“Very, very clear kung ano ang strategy ng China. Very, very clear din kung ano ang strategy ng US, pero very, very unclear kung ano ang strategy natin,” he added.
Cayetano said the government must also look at history to see how the Philippines could get entangled in global power struggles if it does not set a specific long-term strategy.
“I’m very concerned about that kasi we have to look at history. Look what happened sa Cuba when they got in between the US and the USSR, look what happened with Turkey n’ung maglalagay din ng missiles d’un ang US,” he said.
While Cayetano emphasized that the government must not discuss its strategy in public to keep its confidentiality, he said the people need to know that the government indeed has something up its sleeves.
“I disagree na ilahad ‘yan in public kasi hindi magandang strategy na pinapakita mo sa katunggali mo ang strategy mo,” he said.
“But kung mismong top level people din sa House at sa Senate ay hindi rin alam for sure kung ano ang strategy natin, eh problema y’un,” he added.###