Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Geopolitical Stakes of the 2016 Philippine Elections | The Diplomat

See - The Geopolitical Stakes of the 2016 Philippine Elections | The Diplomat

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Diplomatic Implications
These domestic political dynamics in the Philippines could prove to be very consequential in Manila’s diplomacy in the years ahead. Already, Binay has indicated that he would have a different China policy than the one pursued by Aquino. Local media quoted him recently as saying, “we have to accept the fact that China has all the capital and we have the property over there, so why don’t we try to develop that property as a joint venture?” China has long called for joint development in the South China Sea, but other claimant-states’ unease with Beijing’s premise of “indisputable sovereignty” has prevented any progress on the idea.
Apparently, Binay has also not been briefed on why a joint venture with China on equal terms would be a violation of the country’s constitution, the document he would have to vow to defend should he be elected president. But some in the Philippine Left – who have always been against an American presence in the country – have already expressed support for Binay, among them University of the Philippines Professor Harry Roque, who has asked the country’s Supreme Court to block the implementation of EDCA and declare the U.S.-Philippine deal unconstitutional.
Already, Binay’s stated China doctrine has drawn criticism from the West. Scholar Malcolm Cook wrote, “If Binay wins and follows through on these views, it would be a return to the policy preferred by Aquino’s predecessor, President Macapagal-Arroyo… The foreshadowing of a second reversal of Philippines policy on its maritime boundary dispute with China in two presidential terms shows how divided the Philippine political elite and their financial backers are on this issue and its place in Philippines-China relations. A second reversal in two presidential terms would rightfully reinforce views within ASEAN, and in Washington and Tokyo, about the unreliability of the flip-flopping Philippines, and would throw into doubt the wisdom of aligning their South China Sea approaches with the policy prevailing in Manila at any given moment.” It goes without saying that a Binay win would give China reason to celebrate.
If the Liberal Party’s candidate wins, either Roxas or Poe, a continuity of policy, for at least six more years, is likely. It would signal consistency in the Philippines’ relations with the U.S., which has recently stepped up its South China Sea engagements in a bid to delegitimize China’s land reclamation in disputed areas. It would also be good news for Japan, which has been calling for greater rule of law in East Asia, a call echoed by Aquino’s decision to pursue a court case against Beijing. As the standard-bearer of the ruling party, Roxas is expected to largely continue Aquino’s foreign policy direction.
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