Message of Former UP President Edgardo J. Angara on the First PEJA Lecture 2016
UP PRESIDENT EDGARDO J. ANGARA (UP PEJA) PUBLIC LECTURE
“Domestic Stakeholders in Philippine Maritime Disputes:
Impact and Influence on Foreign Policy”
by Dr. Aileen S.P. Baviera, PhD
UP Center for Integrative and Development Studies (UP-CIDS)
03 June 2016 | GT Toyota Asian Center Auditorium, UP Diliman Q.C.
Edgardo J. Angara
Former President, University of the Philippines
Former President of the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines
Justin Trudeau, Canada’s charismatic Prime Minister., won last year on a platform of openness and transparency, effectively differentiating himself and his party (the Liberals) from his predecessor, Stephen Harper and the Conservatives.
One of the main pillars of the Liberal’s platform was pursuing “evidence-based policy.” They advocated that “[g]overnment should base its policies on facts, not make up facts based on policy.” Without evidence, they said government makes arbitrary decisions that have the potential to negatively affect the daily lives of citizens
I said as much when we heard in 2012 the public lecture of Dr. Gerardo Sicat – the last of the inaugural batch of UP PEJA Fellows. Government, in my view, can only meaningfully govern if it is guided by correct data and information.
Unfortunately, this knowledge is not always available to policymakers. Or worse, many politicians refuse to acknowledge the reality the information reflects.
Bridging that knowledge gap should be an abiding concern of the academe. Professors, researchers and other public intellectuals fulfill their nation-building role when they actively produce policy studies that government can refer to when making very difficult socio-political choices.
This is what I should to institutionalize by establishing the UP Center for Integrative and Development Studies, when I was UP President. And I’m happy to note that this is the same objective we are pursuing through the UP PEJA Fellowships.
Today, few international issues command more domestic attention than the South China Sea disputes. The area has already been tagged as a geopolitical hotspot and a possible staging ground for a proxy war among the world’s strongest nations.
The maritime disputes pose as well a national security challenge that the incoming administration must confront.
At stake are the busiest sea lanes in the world, rich marine and fishing resources and potentially abundant gas and oil deposits.
What is also being challenged and tested in the international rule of law, under which all states-large or small, mighty or weak – are enjoined to treat each other with respect and civility, not through blatant of brute military might.
In the coming weeks, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague is expected to rule on our complaint against China. And it’s an open secret that whatever the decision, Beijing will refuse to acknowledge and follow it.
Studies such as what Dr. Baviera will present today greatly help – particularly by crystallizing what the country’s “national interest” really is, which allows us then to further identify possible openings in the icy relations between Manila and Beijing. Taking an objective and calm academic approach to the dispute may hopefully lead to alternative solutions.