The former president, elder’s statesman, and now international advocate and champion of peace and diplomacy is the best man for the job.
The war veteran who rose to become Arm Forces chief, Defense Secretary, and finally Commander in Chief brings along a vast, deep, and long experienced in military, political and diplomatic experience as well as expertise, he would need for his special assignment from the Duterte administration.
Considering his historical and international stature Former president Fidel V. Ramos is a highly respected figure in the international community, whose advice and council is widely sought and highly valued by both leaders of governments and business and industry.
Therefore, FVR could be expected to deliver the best performance of his life-long career as a leader – peacemaker – nation builder – global diplomat.
These thoughts come to mind even as we learn that he has been asked by President Duterte to fly to China to begin talks with Chinese officials, two days after an international tribunal ruled that Beijing’s expansive territorial claim in the South China Sea has no legal basis.
Duterte said the interest of the Philippines and its allies would be considered as they strive to settle the territorial row through diplomacy.
“War, it’s not an option,” Duterte said during a testimonial dinner in his honor organized by the San Beda College Alumni Association at Club Filipino in San Juan.
“(We will go for) peaceful talks. I cannot give you the wherewithal now. I want to consult many people, including president Ramos… I would like to respectfully ask him to go to China and start the talks,” he added.
In an interview with reporters, Ramos said he would have to study Duterte’s request.
“This is not to show disrespect to the President but you have to consider my increasing age. But I can do the job. However, I have bigger commitments in terms of peace in the world and sustainable development,” he said.
Despite his openness to talk to China, Duterte said he would not want to offend the United States, the Philippines’ treaty ally. The US has vowed to remain neutral in the maritime dispute but has repeatedly scored China’s aggressive actions and reclamation in the South China Sea.
“We have allied ourselves with the western powers. So there’s an interest which we should not forget. Our interest and the interest of our allies,” Duterte said.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. would represent Duterte in the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit where the Philippine delegation will also call on parties in the maritime dispute to respect the July 12 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidating China’s massive claim in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea. The event will be held in Ulaan, Baatar.
The ASEM Summit – involving 51 countries – is the first major gathering of leaders after the release of the verdict of the arbitral court on the three-year-old case filed by Manila contesting Beijing’s nine-dash line claim.
China on Monday said the South China Sea issue should not be discussed in ASEM.
Duterte warned that complications might arise if China insists on imposing an air defense identification zone over the South China Sea. He said restricting freedom of navigation would also have a negative impact on the country’s economy.
“If (the sea lanes) are closed, (prices of) everything will go up because the insurance of cargoes, boats and ships there will rise. It will create another problem for our economy,” the President said.