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Need for doggedness

Manila Standard

PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said it loud and clear when he unrolled before a global audience of defense stakeholders seven challenges that beclouded the way for what he called a united community of nations.

He identified them and offered “three constants” that should guide nations in preparing for the challenges.

The 66-year-old President said there is a need to begin by rejecting “misguided interpretations that paint our region as a mere theater of geopolitical rivalries.”

We endorse the President’s thoughts the current juncture does not call for a revision of the regional order but for a reaffirmation of the wisdom of San Francisco in 1945, of Bangkok in 1967, and of Manila in 1982.

His declaration on reaffirming the sovereign equality of all states will have pervasive echoes worldwide.

His words: “Let us return to San Francisco and reaffirm the sovereign equality of all states… Let us also return to Bangkok and support ASEAN’s efforts to build a rules-based, people-oriented, and [people-centered] regional community… let us return as well to Manila and reaffirm our common understanding of how international law governs the peaceful settlement of disputes.

“Amidst misleading narratives that seek to discredit international legal procedures, there is a need to reaffirm that those modalities are an expression of good faith.

“They are a service to the progressive development and codification of international law. They are never an unfriendly act.” .

In that consequential keynote address for the 21st International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Friday, the President displayed ‘seven realities’ or challenges faced by the Indo-Pacific region which are obscuring the way for a united community of nations.

The first reality – the future of the region – which will be determined by many nations, but each has its own unique aspirations challenged by attempts to undermine our faith in prevailing international norms.

The second reality – the strategic competition between China and the United States – which is permeating the evolving regional landscape; the third is the region looks to ASEAN as the institution that should hold the center amidst these evolving dynamics.

Fourth, the role of bridge-builders has become increasingly important in forging decisive multilateral solutions; the fifth – the global commons – will continue to be crucial to the security of states in the region.

The fifth – access of developing countries to the high seas and outer space, and to the peaceful uses of science and technologies – is crucial to international development.

Climate change, a deadly challenge for the region and the world which requires action, and the development of advanced technologies which is rapidly transforming human life and experience are powerful they have the potential to disrupt our political and social orders.

We endorse the President’s guiding monochromes in dealing with the challenges that confront the region: the sovereign equality of states must remain sacrosanct; ASEAN and ASEAN-led processes must remain central; and the rule of law and the integrity of multilateralism must prevail.

Verily, as the President himself underscored, we cannot reverse course and therefore there is a need to “persevere” and “we must push through.”

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