Bar Chart


The Philippines' coast guard undertakes surveillance operations, following the Whitsun Reef issue. Photo by the Philippine Coast Guard.

Karagatan Observer: May 2021

June 1, 2021

In this issue, after months of China's unilateral escalation of tension, China continues to see the Indo-Pacific region turn against it. In the spotlight, China’s actions in the region prove that its actions and intentions are nowhere benign.

The Asian giant continues to aggressively solidify its claims through gray-zone strategies - a tactic that the Philippines continues to see play out since the Julian Felipe Reef incident of March-April 2021.

Karagatan Observer: April 2021

May 1, 2021

Continuing its incursion in Philippines territory, China once again proclaimed its ownership over the West Philippine Sea. China’s foreign ministry spokesperson said that the Philippines should stop “complicating the situation” and urged respect for China’s sovereignty.


However, various sectors of the Philippines - business groups, academe, the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS), the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the Philippine Senate and Congress, and even DFA Secretary Locsin - responded to China's intrusions.

Photo by the US Embassy.

A flotilla of Chinese fishing vessels moored along the Philippines' Julian Felipe Reef under pretext of bad weather. Satellite image copyright by Maxar Technologies via Reuters.

Karagatan Observer: March 2021

April 1, 2021

China's actions in the region have only escalated. The escalation continues since the adoption of its new Coast Guard Law earlier this year.


This time around, however, is different. The international community hasn't been silent on the issue. Aside from the U.S. who's been actively rebuffing Chinese aggression, other countries are partaking in the affirmation of international rules and norms in the contested region, with statements coming from Germany, France, Britain, Japan, and Australia.

In light of these developments, it is incumbent upon the Philippines to take action.

Karagatan Observer: February 2021

March 1, 2021

For this month's Karagatan Observer, the Philippines finds itself in need of reconciling the paradox between China's vaccine diplomacy and the advent of its new Coast Guard Law. The new law risks emboldening the Chinese coast guard to protect its interests in the region.

Philippine officials react to this new development. A careful advance in Philippines-China bilateral relations must be made. This new development further warrants the need to negotiate an ASEAN-China Code of Conduct to ensure regional stability.

Photo by VOA News

Karagatan Observer: January 2021

February 1, 2021

The Philippines and the Indo-Pacific region faced major developments in the world while continuing to deal with long-standing trends in the first month of 2021. 


COVID-19 continues to be a grave concern. The Philippines turned to China for relief with over 25 million vaccines to be supplied. The first batch of 50,000 vaccine doses is set to be delivered in February.

National Security Priorities and Agenda in the Philippines

December 22, 2020

In partnership with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung-Philippines,​ ARS Senior Advisors Dr. Charmaine Willoughby and Dr. Aries Arugay, ARS CEO Julio Amador, and Justin Keith Baquisal explores the nuances surrounding the national security priorities of the Philippine strategic community. This report is a partnership endeavor between the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and Amador Research Services.​


Photo by VOA News

The New Normal of President Duterte's Independent Foreign Policy

December 16, 2020

In this issue of the Asia Pacific Bulletin of East-West Center, ARS CEO Julio Amador and Senior Associate Deryk Baladjay explain that: “The Filipino public is not supportive of the Duterte administration’s approach toward China.”

The short essay featured the present arguments surrounding China's continued unpopularity among Filipinos and how this domestic undertone impacts and reflects the Philippine government's relatively favorable ties with China.

Closer look:

Philippine defense budget and

AFP modernization

December 1, 2020

In their capacities as members of the academe, Ateneo School of Government (ASOG) Senior Research Fellow and ARS CEO Julio Amador and ASOG Research Assistant Deryk Baladjay underwrites an assessment of the Philippines' defense budget from 2010 to 2020 and its underlying dynamics with the AFP modernization.

The study is supported by ASOG and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung-Philippines. The authors welcome points of revisions for the improvement of the paper.

Karagatan Observer: November 2020

November 1, 2020

As the year approaches its end, the Philippines has been seen to be more active in protecting it maritime interests. The Department of National Defense has been hard at work to secure the country’s territorial integrity.

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced that the military’s air domain coverage in the West Philippine Sea has been increased from 27% to 57%. The increase in activity has been attributed to recent acquisitions such as surveillance radar and aircraft as well as unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Philippines and the US:

Change with continuity?

January 1, 2020

ARS CEO Julio Amador and Senior Associate Deryk Baladjay explore the rich history of the Philippines and the US and how events of the past continue to ripple into present bilateral relations.

"The Philippines has had a special relationship with the United States since the islands were ceded by Spain to the United States after the Spanish-American War at the end of the 19th century.  However, since the election of Rodrigo Duterte, the country has pivoted more toward China, and away from the U.S. Duterte has also launched a largescale war on drugs that many criticize for its brutality. What does the future hold for U.S, relations with the Philippines?"

- Great Decisions 2020, Foreign Policy Association

Photo by Doug Mills, NY Times