Analysts: Philippine Leader's Inconsistent Policy On South China Sea Hurts Manila

Analysts: Philippine Leader's Inconsistent Policy On South China Sea Hurts Manila

President Rodrigo Duterte’s mixed messages have left Manila unable to advance its claims in the South China Sea, analysts say.

Andrew H. Sweet
Andrew H. Sweet
  • Philippine President’s mixed messages and “wild swings” in policy-making on the thorny South China Sea issue have cost Manila opportunities to make headway over its territorial claims in the waterway during his five years in power, analysts say.
  • As President, Duterte’s relatively friendly rapport with China has marked a turnaround from his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, whose hard-line stance antagonized Beijing, especially when his administration took the South China Sea dispute to the arbitration court, and won.
  • The arbitral award came with no policing powers to force Beijing into compliance; Duterte could have capitalized on it to shore up international support and advance Manila’s interests.
  • In a televised address, Duterte described the arbitral ruling as “just a piece of paper” that he would “throw in the wastebasket.”

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