KEY national security and foreign relations experts have all pointed to the importance of dialogue and diplomacy in resolving the contentious issues in the West Philippine Sea and preventing war.

National Security Adviser and Professor Clarita Carlos echoed President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s sentiments about the importance of dialogue and diplomacy in preventing conflict during an interview on the blue economy with Atty. Karen Jimeno on CNN’s The Way Forward.

“I think the President has paved the way for that future trajectory of where we're going. So, he's saying, let's just continue dialoguing, constructive dialogue, and the like, and diplomacy,” said the NSA Chief.

Carlos also claimed that the “US and China are trying to deny each other of the region.” She opined that “You don’t choose. Play smart. Define what your goals are as a nation. Play your game well. This is now a new Philippines. A newfound confidence about who we are.”

Former ambassador and undersecretary of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Rosario Manalo also maintains diplomatic solutions are the way to prevent escalation of the present state of affairs.

“The value of diplomacy when it comes to the blue economy is to prevent war. War brings about the end of our existence,” said the former ambassador.

“There are three modes of settling disputes. The first one is called the diplomatic process...the second is through legal action... and the third is through arbitration,” continued Ambassador Manalo.

Former PNP general and now Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong, whose northern city is also “impacted indirectly by the on-going issue of the West Philippine Sea” has lamented the fact that “prices of fish are increasing.” The mayor has received reports that our own fishermen are not allowed to fish in the area, hence, the lack of supply and choices in Baguio’s markets.

Magalong asserts that “the only way we will be able to resolve the issue is through dialogue, constant dialogues, low-key dialogues. Besides, our only objective there is to allow our fishermen to go to that area and proceed with their livelihood. And second, probably a joint exploration on allegedly, on the oil. There was a study made by the US Geological Survey stating therein that there are about a billion barrels of oil and trillion natural gas in the West Philippine Sea.”

Former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, for his part, pointed out that it takes a “lot of skilled diplomacy in order to solve that, but one thing is undeniable. The livelihood of our fisherfolk is primary, because this is survival for them.

Teodoro maintains that “multilateralism basically is really important in the sense that it prevents a stronger country, in theory, from bullying a smaller one. Now, having a bilateral approach would mean the more powerful one will prevail. So, the balance will be we continue to develop our capabilities in creating a credible deterrent against expansionism, but we continue to pursue those activities which can redound mutually to the benefit of our interests of both people, particularly economically, “he opined.

The Way Forward was a three-episode talk show that gathered opinion makers and thought leaders to discuss myriad issues concerning the blue economy. PR