WASHINGTON, DC-based Center for New American Security (CNAS) recently released a report on the current state of US-Philippine relations amid intensifying strategic competition in the Indo-Pacific region. The think tank has formed a task force to assess the security alliance between the Philippines and America.
“China’s growing military and economic power, along with its increasingly aggressive behavior regarding Taiwan and its territorial claims in the South China Sea, is putting stress on the rules-based order in the region,” the CNAS report said. It cites our deep historical and cultural ties, including the significant Fil-Am community, as well as our archipelago’s strategic position in the “first island chain” as factors that make the 75-year alliance between our two countries critically important.
CNAS advised policy makers that they should seek to reinvigorate this critical alliance amid Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s rise to power “following a six-year period marked by turbulence and volatility.” Among its recommendations is the conduct of multilateral security dialogues with countries like Japan and Australia in congruence with US President Joe Biden’s goals of achieving greater integrated deterrence by bringing the Philippines into discussions with key allies.
Another suggestion is to establish American consulates general in Cebu and Davao, where both China and Japan maintain such diplomatic offices. This is in line with the White House’s Indo-Pacific strategy and would facilitate not only closer people-to-people ties but also more effective strategic communication.
How would Mr. Marcos react if trilateral dialogues will be instituted between America’s allies to come up with a common stand on the West Philippine Sea issue? To some extent, it would depend on who the incoming secretaries of national defense and foreign affairs shall be. Abangan!
LOST IN TRANSITION
With just 20 days to go before the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte steps down, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) has not given the green light for the installation of mobile betting systems in its popular lotto games. As a result, the “MobiLotto” project of a Filipino-Chinese joint venture is now in limbo.
This consortium made up of SmartInfo Philippines and China LotSynergy Enterprises was not able to obtain an injunction from the Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court (RTC) that would have compelled the state-owned charitable institution to implement the integrated sales agency agreement (ISAA) that allows mobile betting for PCSO’s lotto games. According to career officials of the agency, the ISAA was signed by the incumbent chairman without prior board approval, while the legal department warned the agency’s officers against implementing the contract due to technical and legal issues.
Neither did the RTC issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the PCSO. The judge handling the case has reportedly gone on leave, and the executive judge reassigned it instead to a newly appointed judge. Apparently, it is a tradition in the judiciary not to issue TROs during the transition between outgoing and incoming administrations.
As political appointees, members of the PCSO’s board of directors are coterminous with Mr. Duterte and their terms will also expire on June 30. Thus, they should focus at this time on the ongoing turnover to their successors, under whose watch those issues can be resolved.
Business decision makers are currently maintaining a wait-and-see attitude with regard to the next administration’s policy-making quality. Nominees for many Cabinet and major line agency positions have yet to be announced. They will be crucial in running the government over the next six years, and thus, the business community is waiting with bated breath to find out who they are.
J. Albert Gamboa is the chief finance officer of Asian Center for Legal Excellence and chairman of the FINEX Media Affairs Committee. The opinion expressed herein does not necessarily reflect the views of these institutions and BusinessWorld. #FinexPhils www.finex.org.ph