Worlds Apart

‘The Americans are parents, but we say: We’re off to college’ – The Philippines Secretary of Foreign Affairs

In a new multipolar world, the Philippines is redefining its relations with the US, while strengthening ties with China and Russia. Philippines Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano joins Worlds Apart to explain how Manila is approaching Washington today. 

“The Americans are parents, but we say: ‘We are off to college. Allow us to pick our own friends. The Chinese are our roommates, our close neighbours,’” as the diplomat compares the relationship with the US with that of parents and children. 

However, if its interests diverge with those of the US or others, the Philippines “will not swallow hook, line and sinker.” “We live in a multipolar world, and the US and other world powers have to find its place in a new world order,” Cayetano adds. “President [Rodrigo] Duterte gave no illusions and during the campaign said this is how I’ll treat China, this is how I’ll treat the US, and I don’t want anyone to dictate upon the Filipino people.”

“In the past, we always said ‘whatever the West or the US says that’s right for us.’ We are now discovering what a real independent foreign policy is, what it is to have a mature friendship with the US, but telling them that we want a mature relationship with Russia, China and the rest of the world.” 

Regarding relations with Russia, Cayetano says: “The more we discover each other, the more we find in common. We both have a very strong sense of identity and finding our place.” President Duterte, he says, is often compared to Vladimir Putin, as both have “political determination and political vision on what to do in the country.”

Watch the whole edition for more.