By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.

QUEZON CITY – The Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) nationalist think tank on Friday (Jan. 19) revealed that an independent foreign policy lies on an independent and strong economy.

The revelation was made by CenPEG and author Prof. Bobby Tuazon coinciding with the launching of a new book entitled: “Spies, Clan Politics, and a new World Order” at the 85-year-old Kamuning Bakery Café, Quezon City.

During the Pandesal Forum, Prof. Tuazon, Director for Policy Studies of CenPEG, said that his book covers the period of from 2001 to 2022, which is a one-year project and proudly funded by comrades to publish the book.

The book is consisting of selected analyses, investigative work for more than 30 years on politics and geopolitics. Tuazon has been coming up with political analysis since 1996.

Spies, or espionage is oftentimes referred to during the American time. He opened the National Archives of the Washington Library and saw the Philippine insurgency about the involvement of then President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.

He thought of sharing about the truth on insurgency in the country where many people were killed, including torture and hamletting incidents, which are still happening today.

Tuazon noted that the new “World Order” is something that he was interested about. From the so-called unipolar involving the United States and transitioned today to multipolar system and it’s not without its conflicts.

He highlighted in 2001 in Iran and in 2003 in Iraq, Saddam Hussein who was arrested secretly.

Tuazon is a politics and geopolitics analyst. A retired professor and former Head of the Political Science Program, at the University of the Philippines (UP).

He was cited by the UP Manila as a distinguished pillar and a Hall of Famer as distinguished faculty. He is also a co-author and co-editor of 15 books.

“Multipolar order is not in its threshold but it’s now happening. We have seen the rising China, the second largest economy in the world and soon to be the no. 1 economy in the world,” Tuazon said.

“The reason behind the current tension in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, not to mention the ongoing war in Ukraine, as well as the war between Israel and the Hamas militant group,” he added.

“If Iran gets involved in the Israeli war, it could escalate into a Middle East crisis,” Tuazon said.

Tuazon, a politics and geopolitics analyst, said that China as of today has diplomatic relations with almost all countries in the world, the latest of which, with Republic of Nauru, who earlier severed ties with Taiwan.

The rivalry with China and the United States, which precipitates some legal issues. The refusal of the United States to give up its “global hegemony”.

There was an agreement between the United States and China, with the exchange of 150,000 students, as well as the so-called “pingpong” diplomacy.

Tuazon took swipe on the alleged collaboration between “warmongers” in the US Congress, the military support to Israel in its war against the Hamas.

In the Taiwan Strait, the one-China policy was somehow “distorted”. The principle is that there is only one China and Taiwan is just an island.

A US Congressional delegation visited Taiwan recently and congratulated the newly-elected Taiwanese President Lai Ching-Le.

Tuazon said that the congratulatory message of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to the newly-elected Taiwanese president is a “twist” or “problematic” insofar as the one-China policy is concerned.

A retired professor and former Head of the Political Science Program, at the University of the Philippines (UP), Tuazon noted that China has diplomatic relations with 180 countries in the world.

One of the very few public intellectuals, Tuazon was cited by the UP Manila as a distinguished pillar and a Hall of Famer as distinguished faculty.

Tuazon is also a co-author and co-editor of 15 books.

“Obviously, basically there is the fear of a threat of a total war between the United States and China,” Tuazon stressed that he would not see a possibility of such a “total war”.

“President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. has expressed his intention of full support to US President Joe Biden, which led to the installation of new EDCA sites or military facilities in Isabela, Cagayan and the northern part of the Philippines in response to China’s threat to Taiwan,” he said.

Fortunately, in the recent news, Tuazon said, Marcos, Jr. is now talking to China in order to deescalate the tension in the South China Sea.

The bilateral dialogue with China has started since the time of then President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, which was terminated with the passing of the late Philippine Ambassador to China Sta. Romana.

“All things considered, with President Biden, there is the path to peace and order. The absence of viable infrastructure system, including the traffic, which has been adjudged as the ‘worst’ in the world, iyan ang mga ;problema,” Tuazon said.

He opined that Constitutional reforms are now lacking in order to fasttrack economic development.

“The sole path of an independent foreign policy is to have an economic power,” Tuazon said. 

Dr. Prof. Temario C. Rivera, CenPEG Chairman, said that the so-called “Pirma Initiative”, could it solve the current problems of the Philippines.

Based on credible surveys, Rivera said “wala talagang clamor, pagnanais ang taong bayan na magkaroon na naman ng revision ang ating Constitution.”

“Inflation, napakataas ng presyo ng bilihin natin, problema ng employment, equality and inequality, ang kalunus-lunos na kalagayan ng ating kababayan,” he added.

Rivera pointed out that “No matter how to change the existing laws and rules, kung wala namang pagbabago sa detemination ng ating mambabatas, wala ring mangyayari.”

“We have new laws, such as the revision in the Public Service Act, 100 percent of foreign investment ay pwede na,” Rivera said.

“Napakataas ng ating power rate compared to the rest of Southeast Asian countries. Ano ba talaga ang political agenda ng ating executive leaders for charter change whether people’s initiative or pirma initiative,” he added.

Rivera noted though that the immediate context of such an initiative is the 2025 elections and the 2028 elections.

There is an existing fear that under the current political system, one of the possible agenda is that there is a looming Marcos-Romualdez bloc.

Rivera noted that the people’s initiative has the agenda on the looming “dynastic hegemony” of the Marcos-Romualdez bloc.

“We know that the problem exists in the West Philippine Sea, the South China Sea. We have to engage in a positive way,” Rivera said.

However, he said, the military approach now being employed by the Philippine government, which is very military, we have a slight chance of resolving the conflict,” he added.

The “red line’ is that if the newly-elected Taiwanese President declares “independence’, which is the first flashpoint in the Taiwan Strait.

He advised to explore all possible dialogue in resolving the issue.

“Our relations with China is not exclusively and definitely defined by the West Philippine Sea,” Rivera said.

He added that there are more ways and means to explore in order to strengthen the country’s relations with China such as economic, cultural, educational, and even military to military cooperation.

There are already many laws that have been passed that resulted in more economic development.

“Walang malinaw na industrialization program ang gobyerno that will create good, stable work,” Rivera said.

“Ang kailangan natin ay industries such that we are composed of islands which need linkages,” he added.

In the jeepney modernization program, however, we rely on imported manufacturers which are offering expensive modern jeepney, considering that we the Sarao and Francisco Motors, which can manufacture less expensive modern jeepneys.

“Hangga’t hindi nabibigyan ng real Constitutional safety nets, our economy will continue to be ‘luggard’,” Rivera said.

“Can we reasonably expect an anti-dynasty law. Napakahirap nyan. Although napakahirap to weaken the dominant political dynasties,” he added.

“It’s the problem to unite all the opposition parties. Interestingly, there has been a law against dynasty in the Sangguniang Kabataan,” Rivera noted.

Rivera stressed that the first is primarily the military approach to the conflict, the slightest miscalculation of which, may result to conflagration in the South China Sea.

“Slow down on the conflict in the South China Sea. Hindi maganda yan,” he said.

“An independent foreign policy lies solely on a strong economy,” he added.

Among others, Rivera cited the strengthening of the production of coffee and coconut products.

The CenPEG chairman also pointed out that there are groups who are opposed to the resumption of peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF), which has been announced by President Marcos, Jr.

It can be noted that President Marcos, Jr. has announced that there now only 11 existing “weakened guerilla fronts” of the New People’s Army (NPA) with 1,000 armed members, as of December 2023.

“There are many precipitating factors (coup d’etat) such as the retirement fund for the police and uniformed personnel of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” Rivera said.

He noted that the retired police and AFP personnel did not contribute to the retirement fund of the government, but then they are entitled to retirement pension, adding that, these people seem to be opposed to the resumption of peace talks with the NDF.