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Friday, March 24, 2023

Philippines: Experts advocate for a tripartite defensive arrangement between the Philippines, United States, and Japan.

Experts expressed support to a potential trilateral defense mechanism among the Philippines, the United States, and Japan, and a visiting forces deal with Japan, amid China’s continuous aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

Japan-based think-tank The Canon Institute for Global Studies’ Research Director Miyake Kunihiko said there is a need for a multi-layer security, maritime policing mechanism involving the Philippines, Japan, and United States.

Miyake made the statement during a forum on Friday entitled, “Strengthening Partnerships Toward a Free and Open Indo-Pacific”, organized by the Stratbase ADR Institute, together with the Embassy of Japan and the Embassy of the United States in the Philippines.

Japanese foreign affairs and national security expert Miyake said that a trilateral cooperation with the Philippines, Japan, and United States is a “natural process” considering the changing security environment in this part of the world.

“ It’s (security environment) evolving. It’s changing. We need support from people. So therefore, the process will be incremental. The thing is we have that intention and we started doing it and it will continue so that the other side will not misunderstood,” he explained.

Miyake added that a quad patrol with the Philippines, Japan, United States, and even Australia is necessary to maintain the status quo in this part of the world.

“It’s another natural process because the sea is wide and big, and ships are limited, so it’s pretty natural that instead of one country doing the whole thing, more countries work together to cover as much area as possible. I think it’s in the pipeline , we have to do this in order to maintain the status quo and prevent them from being changed by force. I think it’s a matter of time,” he said.

Miyake also believes that the Japanese government is “very, very serious” about a visiting force deal with the Philippines.

“It is not a means to coerce foreign countries. It is a means to send the right message to those who wish to change the status quo by force and not in compliance with the international law. Then they will think twice. is natural maritime policing operations. Unless you have a bad intention, you don’t have to worry,” he added.

Political analyst and Stratbase President Dindo Manhit also said that the Philippines must strengthen its alliances and partnerships with states that have vowed to protect the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific, which is now being disrupted by expansionist ambition and militarization.

“The current administration’s recent engagements with Japan and the United States include a potential trilateral defense mechanism and a Visiting Forces Agreement with Japan. Although no final agreements have been reached, the Stratbase ADR Institute sees these as opportunities to promote rules-based order through cooperation among like-minded states,” Manhit said.

Manhit pointed out that Japan and the United States have consistently supported the Philippines in its 2016 arbitral victory in the West Philippine Sea.

“This is emphatically reiterated whenever there are emerging issues in the West Philippine Sea, such as the recent incident of China’s pointing a military-grade laser against the Philippine Coast Guard. In this context, the international community’s consistent recognition and support are critical in asserting the country’s sovereign rights on its territory and defending the rules-based international order,” he explained.

“To effectively respond to security challenges in the maritime domain, working with friends and allies through joint maritime patrols will enforce our national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Filipinos strongly support this, with 80 percent believing that the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard should be This further validates the strategic importance of alliances and partnerships in safeguarding the West Philippine Sea,” Manhit added.

Manhit then urged the Marcos administration to continue implementing an independent external policy that is responsive, strategic, and Filipino centric.

Economist and Committee Member of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Public Administration Ronald Mendoza emphasized the importance of Japan as a security and economic partner to the Philippines.

“Despite our earlier checkered history, Japan has become one of our closest and trusted democratic partners in Asia. This goes well beyond the economic and security partnerships our two nations have forged. This is people to people. Perhaps unsurprisingly, nationwide polls of Filipinos’ trust of other countries place Japan in or near the top (along with US, Canada and Australia), with China placing at the bottom in recent years,” Mendoza said.

“This partnership is forged during uncertain times; and it’s critical to acknowledge that the economic partnership is even more important in the face of presently elevated geo-political risks notably due to rising tensions involving China and the US,” he added.

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