September 12, 2016


By Arturo P. Garcia


During the 1960’s decades after World War II, when the Philippines was second to Japan as an economic power and without American help, then President Diosdado Macapagal founded the Association of Southeast Asian Countries or the ASA.

The Philippines then acquired prominence in International diplomacy. Thus when Macapagal formed in 1961 called the Association of Southeast Asia (ASA), a group consisting of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand. It was diplomatic marvel for the Philippines.

It was then the height of the Cold War between the Western Bloc led by the US and the Eastern Bloc led by the USSR. In fact there was a military alliance in Southeast Asia called the South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) also known as the Manila Pact formed in 1954.

Thus with the birth of ASA and the dissolution of SEATO in 1967, ASEAN itself was created on 8 August 1967, five countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, signed the ASEAN Declaration, more commonly known as the Bangkok Declaration The creation of ASEAN was motivated by a common fear of communism and a thirst for economic development.

But as years past and as ASEAN grew and as the Philippines is now second to the basket bowl, Bangladesh , the last developing nations in Asia, the Philippines lost its pre-eminence in the ASEAN itself.

It also coincided with ASEAN becoming more and more a lame duck economic organization beholden to the United States, European Union and Japan. Here are the reasons why:20160402_LDD001_facebook

1)The ASEAN can even take a united stand against China on the issue of its aggressiveness in the South China Seas against 5 ASEAN nations namely the Philippines, Vietnam Malaysia, Brunei,Taiwan and Indonesia and the Japanese islands in Shenshuku

Laos,Burma and Cambodia and even Thailand are toeing China’s line that own the South China Seas and never dares to take a united ASEAN position unfavorable to China. Why? Even the Philippines and Vietnam are circumspect on the issue despite the ruling of the International Arbirtral Tribunal (APT).

Only Malaysia,Vietnam and Indonesia supports the Philippine position of the disputed West Philippines Sea and the China’s rabid agression in the area. Other ASEAN nations are just fence-sitting.

2) The ASEAN as an economic partnership with no military might is becoming more and more an adjunct of the US policy of “Pivot Asia “ and the Trans Pacific Partnership or TPP. Thus each nation takes foremost their economic gains not the ASEAN or collective interests.

In fact, Vietnam and Thailand in fact have joined the TPP earlier and enjoyed “Most Favored Nation” status in the United States, far ahead of its ASEAN neighbor. Vietnam was also a recipient of US military aid and assistance. In fact, more than the Philippines,

3) The ASEAN toes the US line on the maritime disputes against China. Thus, the ambivalent stand on the maritime issues but follow the US lead on “ peaceful settlement of the dispute” and the obedience to the arbitral ruling on the South China Seas.

The ASEAN also supports the US and the “freedom of international navigation “ escalating the militarization of the area

Thus, the presidency of ASEAN now in the hands of the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is a lame duck organization in reality. Duterte’s promise to make it as an “economic regional power” is a pipe dream as long as the US controls ASEAN.

In the end, Duterte’s declaration to “follow self-reliant foreign policy” is the key to Philippines progress sans ASEAN. Duterte also pointed out, “ ASEAN interests must also serve “our national and people’s respective interests.”

For ASEAN is a lame duck organization controlled by the US. The same US dog with different collar.

As the British statesman Sir. Winston Churchill described diplomacy:

“ The art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they will ask for directions.”


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