UniTeam candidate Harry Roque said the Philippines should not be associated with the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) because it might drag the country into a military conflict in the Indo-Pacific region.
Roque expressed relief that the country has not expressed support for the Quad, an informal security forum comprised of the United States, India, Australia, and Japan, because it is inimical to the national interest.
Roque described the Quad as a collective security association predisposed to isolate and contain China, which has emerged as an economic and military superpower.
“I’m glad that we are not a part of the Quad,” Roque said. “Otherwise, the country would inevitably become involved in an arms race.”
“That has nothing to do with our primary national interest of creating prosperity for all Filipinos and remaining friendly to neighbor countries of the Philippines,” Roque added.
An international law expert, Roque described the Duterte government’s independent foreign policy thrust of ‘being friendly to all and enemy to none.’
“We are not fighting with any country at the moment, and we do not wish to be dragged into any kind of armed conflict in our region,” he said.
Saying that China has become a perceived threat to the US and its allies, Roque said it is important for the government to determine whether China is a threat to or a friend of the Philippines.
“We should carefully examine the perception or position that the enemy of the US automatically becomes our enemy, too. Why should we involve the Philippines in the conflict between the US and China?” he asked.
Aside from maintaining a neutral stance on the issue, Roque urged the government to boost the strong bilateral Philippine-China trade relations further to generate more employment and income opportunities for Filipinos.
According to the Philippine Bureau of Investments, China was the Philippines’ top trading partner, export market destination, and import source in 2019. The bilateral trade reached close to US$ 50 billion, growing at an average of 17 percent since 2014.
In 2020, China remained the country’s biggest trading partner, largest export market, and foremost import supplier, according to the China General Administration of Customs.
In the first eight months of 2021, the trade volume between the two countries soared 31.5 percent year-on-year to 335.98 billion yuan ($52.01 billion).
Roque said the country should continue tapping the vast Chinese market for export products such as electronic parts and semiconductors, mineral ores, marine products, bananas, and pineapples.
“We can also export coffee, coconuts, vegetables, as well as clothing, and medicine to China to increase the income of our local farmers and manufacturers,” Roque added.
Given the spectacular growth of its economy, Roque also sees the possibility of sending more skilled and semi-skilled Filipino workers to China.