By Dan Steinbock
In the midst of the worst global volatility in 45 years, Philippines could be aligning its future to secular erosion, political divisions and militarization.
Six years ago, Duterte was still recalibrating his foreign policy to find the right balance between US military and Chinese development. Finally, the Philippines was able to reap the benefits of both great power, just as other ASEAN countries had for many years.
But these days are rapidly passing. And the timing couldn’t be worse. Manila appears to be positioning itself in a manner that could lead to increased economic and geopolitical collateral damages. If that’s the case, it’s unwarranted. Other options do exist.
US-led militaritarization of the region, which raises nuclear risks in the region
The Philippines and the United States have announced that they will host their largest Balikatan. [“shoulder-to-shoulder” military] With 17,600 participants, it is the largest historical exercise. It will begin in mid-April and include live fire, 12,000 US troops and 5,000 Philippine soldiers. There will also be 110 observers from Australia or Japan.
Officially, the focus will be on “maritime defense, coast defense, and maritime domain awareness.” Yet, leading US observers say the…