Press Release
October 21, 2016


The President is the chief architect of Philippine foreign policy. But this power is not his alone -- he shares this with the Senate in the case of treaties.

Taking the President's statement literally entails an abrogation of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States, a binding security and military agreement. The Senate needs to be clarified if the President did indeed intend to terminate the MDT.

Moreover, our Constitution and laws dictate the general direction and tone of our foreign policy - one that adheres to peace, equality, justice, considers our national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination, and promotes the welfare and interest of Filipinos overseas.

This means we don't start a fight. At the same time, we don't back out of a fight for our sovereignty and territory. We fight using the diplomatic and legal instruments and stages available to us, such as taking the battle over the West Philippine Sea to the international arbitral tribunal where we were able to win our case without any gunshots fired.

We are in agreement that the Philippines needs an independent foreign policy, one that protects and champions the interests of the Filipino people, one that is not pro-American and not pro-China but pro-Filipino, ensuring that the conventions and agreements we sign will benefit Filipino citizens.

International realities must also be considered. Our total external trade in goods for the first semester of 2015, according to latest government data, reached $ 59.61 billion -- with Japan ($8.765 billion), China ($7.812 billion), and the United States ($7.743 billion) as the country's top three trading partners. Approved foreign investments to the country in 2015 was P245.2 billion, with Netherlands first at P82.7 billion, and Japan and South Korea ranking second and third with investments amounting to P54.7 billion and P23.2 billion respectively.

In terms of warms bodies, we have more than 10 million overseas Filipino workers, who sent $25.8 billion in remittances last year alone. They include almost 4 million Filipinos in the US.

Given these, we support Senator Bam Aquino's Senate Resolution 158 calling on the Senate Committees on Foreign Relations and Economic Affairs to conduct a hearing, in aid of legislation, on the foreign policy direction of the government with the end view of protecting our national interest.

The hearing is imperative following the recent pronouncements of President Duterte regarding the new direction of Philippine foreign policy.

The hearing should reveal the terms of the 13 agreements and memoranda of understanding, including the reported $6 billion in soft loans, $3 billion in credit facilities through private Chinese banks, and the Joint Coastal Guard Committee on Maritime Cooperation in disputed waters, signed during the President's state visit to China.

The hearing should call on the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Finance, and Trade and Investments to explain the ramifications of the President's latest foreign policy pronouncements on Filipinos living here and abroad.

The Filipino people deserve to know what the official position of the administration is and how these affect the lives of our countrymen residing in all corners of the globe.

*Data on trade and investments from the Philippine Statistics Authority, and data on Filipinos overseas from the Commission of Filipinos Overseas.

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