Jan 19, 2024
Karagatan Observer | Fourth Quarter 2023
2023 has seen the Philippines definitively step up its game in terms of defending its sovereignty. This is most notably seen in the fruits born from the renewed focus on the alliance with the United States (US), amid a “balancing” in foreign relations. However, this tangible show of security focus came as China likewise increased its activities.
The last quarter of 2023 saw the Philippines make explicit moves to secure itself specifically from China. In late October, the Philippines announced the termination of its participation from the Belt and Road Initiative. In December, after having suffered another incident at sea, some senators called for the Philippine ambassador to China to be recalled.
Oct 13, 2023
Karagatan Observer | Third Quarter 2023
The events of 2023 ramped up for the Philippines. In July, the Philippines commemorated the 7th anniversary of the Arbitration Award granted in 2016, securing a milestone legal victory against China. The following month of August saw the Marcos Administration release its National Security Policy 2023-2028, which coincidentally saw many bilateral ties strengthened as envisioned in the policy. The past September most notably saw the government pronounce the Maritime Zones Act as a priority bill, the better for the Philippines to act on the Arbitration.
Meanwhile, China stepped up its game, with some branding their acts tantamount to an invasion and warning of escalation.
Jul 7, 2023
Karagatan Observer | Second Quarter 2023
The Philippines continued to foster strong relations with the United States (US) through the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and the conducting of extensive bilateral exercises, much to China’s chagrin. Internally, the Philippines wrestled with internal disputes over maritime policy.
May 24, 2023
National Security Survey 2022: Results & Findings
The Amador Research Services (ARS) and Foundation for National Interest (FNI) conducted the second annual iteration of its Philippine National Security Survey from November to December 2022, which focused on an expanded menu of regional strategic issues ranging from US-China competition, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and Philippine relations with external powers.
Apr 20, 2023
Karagatan Observer | First Quarter 2023
As the year 2022 came to an end the Marcos administration released the “Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028” (PDP), which called for cooperation and transformation to achieve a better Philippines. More specifically, it stated the need for “a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach” and “deep and fundamental transformations” in all sectors of society. This overarching plan is, by the admission of the government, affected by geopolitical issues in the region.
Three months into the year and the Philippines has faced several challenges as it endeavored to bolster its international image and its sovereignty defense.
Apr 13, 2023
Report: FACTS and ARS explore Myanmar Crisis
FACTS Asia and Amador Research Services (ARS), in partnership with The Asia Foundation (TAF), began the “Myanmar Crisis as an Existential Threat to ASEAN and the Philippines’ Views and Response” webinar duology to revisit what has transpired over the two years that Myanmar has been under military rule, assess actions and statements from the international community specially ASEAN and reexamine and evaluate the Philippine response and policies regarding the issue.
Dec 15, 2022
Karagatan Observer: November-December 2022
As 2022 comes to an end, trends established since the Marcos administration began will continue into the new year. The most notable foreign policy of the current government is its attempt to balance relations between the United States (US) and China.
Nov 7, 2022
Karagatan Observer: October 2022
More than 100 days have passed since the new Marcos administration came to power and it claims to have adhered to the “friend to all, enemy to none” policy. Throughout the month, the Philippines has deepened defense relations while exploring ways to augment its energy production in the maritime domain.
In China, the Communist Party held its 20th National Congress with President Xi Jinping securing a third term in office. Meanwhile, North Korea ramped up its missile tests and rhetoric.
Near the end of the month, the Philippines also suffered from the wrath of Typhoon Paeng (Nalgae) which resulted in hundreds of lives lost and extensive damage to farms and fisheries.
Oct 11, 2022
Karagatan Observer: September 2022
The Philippines celebrated Maritime and Archipelagic Awareness Month (MANAMo) throughout September. President Marcos Jr. made two noteworthy state visits to Singapore and Indonesia in early September and later an official visit to the United States (US) to attend the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Meanwhile the successful counter-offensive of Ukraine has forced Russia into calling reservists, and to depend on its relationship with China. China has relentlessly defended its position regarding Taiwan, notably complaining after US President Biden once again pledged to come to Taiwan’s defense.
The Philippines also joined the world in mourning over the death of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.
Sep 9, 2022
Karagatan Observer: July-August 2022
Six years have passed since the landmark Arbitration Award was granted to the Philippines in its legal case against China. The Marcos administration, now two months into its six-year term, has reaffirmed the importance of the Award. In a straightforward defense of Philippine sovereignty, President Marcos promised in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) that he would not “surrender an inch” of Philippine territory.
Half-a-year has also passed since the onset of the Russo-Ukraine War and its impacts continue to be felt in the Indo-Pacific region, specifically in China and Taiwan. Entering August, United States (US) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ignored Chinese warnings and visited Taiwan as part of her tour of the region. This caused a flurry of activity from China and a myriad of reactions from the international community.
Jul 4, 2022
Karagatan Observer: June 2022
The Indo-Pacific region witnessed a handful of notable events throughout June. From the Shangri-La Dialogue to the Rim of the Pacific Exercise, from North Korean missile tests to Chinese aircraft carriers, there was much to consider and contend with.
In the Philippines, the Duterte administration reached its conclusion, paving the way for a new administration and its security framework for the country.
Jun 23, 2022
The Bilateral Consultation Mechanism: An Effective Management of Philippines-China Relations?
"The BCM... affords the parties to compartmentalize issues. Separating the contentious issues from other aspects of the bilateral relations enables the two countries to discuss and look for possible areas of cooperation. This includes the economic and the sociocultural facets of the bilateral relations and non-traditional security issues. Spaces like these allow for positive engagement necessary in maintaining peaceful relations and preventing conflicts in the future."
Jun 6, 2022
Karagatan Observer: May 2022
On the 9th of May 2022, the Philippines elected Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as its 17th president, obtaining 58% of the vote. Later in the month, Australia had a swift change in government after its election now led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. United States President Joe Biden made his first visit to Asia to reaffirm ties and formally unveiled the US-led economic plan aptly titled “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework”. All this occurred as China made steps to push its sphere of influence in the South Pacific.
May 4, 2022
Karagatan Observer: April 2022
The Indo-Pacific remains to be confronted by security concerns specifically on the buildup of nuclear armaments. As Russia’s invasion continues to be stalled by Ukraine’s staunch defense, Russia amped its talk of nuclear weapons to deter the international community from interfering. China and North Korea took similar stances for their respective agendas. Meanwhile, eyes turn toward the Philippines as it approaches the 2022 national elections – a potential game changer in regional dynamics. The Philippines also mourns the loss of its envoy to China, Ambassador Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana, whose tenure facilitated the flourishing of relations between the two countries.
Apr 9, 2022
Karagatan Observer: March 2022
The region continues to grapple with the shockwaves of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Its implications are considered, and its lessons analyzed by all states in the region. Atop all these concerns, it is imperative for states in Europe and the Indo-Pacific, particularly the Philippines, to abide by the maxim “plan for the worst while hoping for the best”.
Mar 6, 2022
Karagatan Observer: February 2022
The Indo-Pacific region continues to grapple with a myriad of issues amid the actions of great powers. After months of military buildup and prolonged negotiation, Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. Australia suffered a laser attack from China. The Philippines continues to scrutinize its presidential candidates and their platforms for long-term national security.
Feb 6, 2022
Karagatan Observer: December 2021 - January 2022
The Philippines was struck by Typhoon Odette on 16 December 2021. In the aftermath of the storm, Philippine allies and partners demonstrated their capacity to speedily respond to the country’s needs. It is this exact interconnectedness that the Philippines must continue to foster and build upon. As 2022 began in earnest, the international community welcomed a report from the United States (U.S.) definitively refuting China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea.
Jan 11, 2022
Examining the Feasibility of the Philippines' Submarine Acquisition: Executive Report
"In recent years, the Philippines has developed a keener sense of its national security and has endeavored to augment its defense posture. The final Kwentong Mandaragat webinar of 2021, held on 16 December, brought together experts from the Philippines and abroad to discuss the feasibility and potential impacts of submarine acquisition... Whether the Philippines pursues submarine acquisition or not, these decisions must be made after extensive consultation and cooperation with allies and partners, and after careful consideration of the recommendations provided by international experts."
Dec 19, 2021
Karagatan Observer: Annual Recap 2021
The special annual recap for 2021 corroborates the yearly events from past Karagatan Observer issues and is compiled together for a single, concise, and comprehensive report.
Dec 1, 2021
Beyond Maritime Security: Executive Report
"Beyond territorial discrepancies and national security interests, questions arise about rights and obligations of states in relation to environmental protection, fisheries and food security, protection of indigenous peoples, climate change, disaster relief and biodiversity which altogether has economic and sustainable development impacts to states concerned."