‘Foreign policy, a mere extension of local politics’

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PASIG City, March 6, 2013—With the Sabah issue painfully being sorted out in a crucible of violence and bloodshed, a political analyst says, Philippine foreign policy cannot help but be a mere extension of local politics.

‘Selfish national interest’

“What is foreign policy, if not just the extension of your domestic policy,” said Erik Espina, commenting on how the Philippine government is managing the Sabah crisis.

Discussing Philippine foreign relations and national security during a youth vote forum for University of Asia and the Pacific students last Wednesday, Espina said, Filipinos need not look far to pinpoint the wellspring of Philippine foreign policy – local politics.

In the Philippines, so-called domestic policy or national interest, he said, is actually just the ‘selfish national interest’ of certain individuals.

“[D]omestic policy is just a product of what? The politics of the country,” Espina, also a radio and TV broadcaster, said.

What is the ideology of the Filipino people?

He said, politicians should go back to the values and principles contained in the Constitution, which will define the country’s identity and clarify foreign policy, which has been – especially with regard to territorial disputes – murky, at best.

Espina said, present-day politicians know little of or exercise close to nothing of the ideology the Philippine Constitution espouses.

“What is so important about the ideology of the people? It identifies who we are, who our enemies are, who we are not,” he added.

‘Weak’ local politics

Espina explained, the correlation with foreign relations is direct.

“How can we express ourselves, defend ourselves if [identity] is lacking?” he asked.

In closing, he decried ‘weak’ local politics, one that is characterized by executives who cannot decide without calling on their staff and whose foreign policy seems to be a one-liner: “Maging mahinahon tayo (Let us be calm).”

During the past week, 8 Malaysians and 19 Filipinos have been killed in the violence over the fight to claim Sabah. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]


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