INCOMING National Security Adviser (NSA) Clarita Carlos said on Thursday, June 9, 2022, that the administration of President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is heading to a “critical engagement” with China amid the ongoing dispute at the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

In a television interview, Carlos, whose appointment as NSA was announced on Wednesday, said the country’s relationship with China was among the matters discussed during her meeting with Marcos Jr.

“Critical engagement with China would be the way to go and President Marcos already noted it will still be enhanced on all levels,” she said.

Marcos earlier hailed Carlos for her expertise in foreign policy and international politics, which was further displayed when she served as a panelist at the SMNI presidential debate in March, the only debate Marcos participated in during the election period.

Carlos is a retired political science professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

She also served as the first female civilian president of the National Defense College of the Philippines from August 1998 to October 2001.

On Tuesday, China’s Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said the differences between China and the Philippines can be managed through bilateral consultation and friendly communication.

Huang made the statement after the Department of Foreign Affairs summoned him last week due to the alleged harassment of a Philippine Coast Guard vessel conducting research activity in the disputed territory.

He said they have been communicating with the Philippine government in a diplomatic and peaceful manner.

The national government has filed several protests against China in the past months and years over the harassment of Filipinos, including security personnel, in the waters off WPS.

China refused to recognize the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands in favor of the Philippines, invalidating China’s claims of the sea areas falling within the nine-dash line that is over 90 percent of the WPS.

The ruling also affirmed the traditional and legitimate fishing rights of Filipino fishermen in the area.

Human security

Carlos said they will also look into the economic life of the country, which includes human, food, energy and water security that also plays a major role in national security.

“National security is human security. Ano yung threat sa buhay mo as an individual,” she said.

“I'm sure right now, malayo sa isip mo ‘yung contested South China Sea, malayo sa isip mo ‘yung Quad. They are too far away from your existence from day to day,” she added.

Quad is the alliance between the United States, Australia, India and Japan.

Carlos said the public can expect that under the Marcos administration, there would be no more red-tagging.

“Siguro let's not use labels. Wala naman tayong mahihita nang ganyan we keep on labelling people,” she said.

“Pakialaman na lang natin, let's put our energy on operational aspects of really rooting, looking at the roots of insurgency, yung lack of opportunity, yung injustice na hindi naa-address,” she said.

Red-tagging is an act of linking a person or group to the communist terrorist group. (SunStar Philippines)