"FIVE Eyes" is an intelligence alliance made up of Australia, United Kingdom, United States, Canada and New Zealand. Formed during the Cold War, the member countries share intelligence with each other about potential rivals in a geopolitical power play.

With China’s economic and military rise, as well as its entry on the world stage as a major player, it is inevitable that the alliance will be in a collision course with the former, which is considered the powerhouse of East Asia.

Among its members, Australia is touted as a regional player in geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific theater with Southeast Asian countries at the center of gravity.

Like its big brother, the U.S., which has been expanding its bases around the Pacific as part of its pivot to Asia, Australia is also gearing towards that direction, albeit, in a limited scale due to fund constraints.

With the Americans finding a clever and less provocative way to continue its presence in the Philippines through two accords: the Visiting Forces and the Enhance Defense Cooperation Agreements, so is Australia. Using the pretext of military and humanitarian cooperation, Australian troops are able to set foot on our soil and gain access to the AFP camps.

Some reports showed that Aussies were able to establish their forward presence in Mindanao by building nondescript military facilities inside a Zamboanga camp owned by the AFP.

Everyone knew the risks of keeping military installations like this one as it could be used for intelligence gathering and staging areas for special operations. In the event of an armed conflict, the country will be perceived to be aiding and abetting these foreign state actors; thus becoming a legitimate target.

Nestled between China and Australia, the location of the Philippines is undoubtedly suitable for forward deployment of troops and logistics among competing powers in the Asia Pacific.

In a country like the Philippines, it’s in its best interest to stay neutral since it doesn’t have a carrot and big stick to wave around when war ensues among super powers. If the foreign policy is not bound to any geopolitical interest, chances are high that the country will succeed at the negotiating table and bilateral talks with its potential adversaries.

Since the new administration remains ambiguous in its foreign policy, it is imperative that the Philippines should continue the neutrality approach in dealing with its neighbors—a strategy adopted by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s predecessor.

Furthermore, the country should also rethink its policy of allowing more foreign troops to roam freely on its soil. More so in weighing the costs and benefits of having other foreign military facilities like the one operated by Australia in Mindanao. (SPONSORED CONTENT)