PDP-LABAN Policy Studies Group head Jose Antonio Goitia said President Rodrigo Duterte has already initiated a series of activities as the government undertake its next steps in the wake of the Chinese government’s defiance of the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling favoring the Philippine government.
According to Goitia, who also serves as President of PDP-Laban San Juan City Council, Duterte has convened his administration’s first National Security Council (NSC) meeting, composed of high-level officials of the executive and legislative branches of the government, including all the living former presidents.
“The historic meeting of President Duterte with former presidents Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Arroyo and Noynoy Aquino appears to be a show of unity of all the past heads of the nation to seriously discuss the Philippine government’s best option for its strategy in light of the favorable Hague ruling,” Goitia stated.
He added that aside from the wisdom they may have imparted in the meeting, the past presidents’ gesture of appearing together despite their political differences can be seen as a symbolic act to rally Filipinos to unite and support the government in the actions and decisions it will take to strengthen its position on the territorial claims over the West Philippine Sea.
Prior to the NSC meeting, Duterte earlier met with US Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss US-Philippine relations including US position on the recent Hague ruling on the Philippines’ territorial claims over the West Philippine Sea.
“While support from the US and other countries bolster the Philippine claim, President Duterte is trusted to maintain an independent position that will best benefit the Filipino people and will not jeopardize Philippine sovereignty over the disputed territory,” Goitia added. “In addition, the appointment of former President Fidel Ramos as special envoy bodes well for the forthcoming talks with the Chinese government given the former army general’s diplomatic reputation in the international community.”