Tensions among rival claimant-states to the waters and land features of the South China Sea (SCS) – particularly China, the Phihppines and Vietnam – have escalated significantly in the last several years, bringing the Philippines to center stage as a key participant in the future of security and stability in our part of the world. While the surge in confrontational rhetoric and actions directed against the Philippines have added to the urgency of ensuring calibrated and effective responses, the territorial and resource disputes themselves are not new and have been the subject of policy action and deliberation for decades. The challenges arising therefrom are not expected to be resolved easily or soon, but will likely continue to demand the attention of government and the Filipino public for decades to come.
This White Paper seeks to draw the attention of all concerned Filipino stakeholders – particularly those in government – to the urgent need for a strategic framework for the management of our territorial, maritime jurisdiction,and resource disputes in the West Philippine Sea (WPS). The authors are former or current public servants, coming from various areas of specialization, who have long been involved in past initiatives relating to Phihppine policy in the WPS.
The paper is not intended to provide answers to all the policy questions, but to suggest a pohcy agenda, and to underscore the urgent need for a strategic vision, more permanent institutions, as well as for more effective arrangements for policymaking and coordination to address such agenda.