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Sen. Gatchalian seeks more details on monumental foreign policy shift

Senator Win Gatchalian ​speaks with Michael Hasper, chargé d’affaires and deputy head of mission of the German Embassy in Manila at a recent international business and energy summit. Gatchalian is seeking more details on the president’s announcement of “separation” with the United States. (Photo by Mark Cayabyab)

Senator Win Gatchalian is seeking more details about the economic and security parameters involved in the monumental foreign policy shift announced by President Rodrigo Duterte in front of Chinese officials and business leaders at the Philippines-China Trade and Investment Forum in Beijing.

Senator Gatchalian was one of several Philippine officials in attendance at the event, where Duterte declared a separation from the United States in economic and military policy during a key event on the itinerary of the President’s landmark state visit to China. 

“President Duterte shocked the world by declaring the most monumental shift in Philippine foreign policy since the foundation of the Republic seven decades ago. The administration needs to clarify the scope and reach of this declaration,” said Gatchalian.

Gatchalian pointed out that almost immediately after Duterte’s announcement, members of his economic team released a statement which downplayed the policy shift as a focus on economic integration with Asia instead of a clean break in relations with the West.

“Does this declaration embody a mere pivot to Asia, or is it a hardline stance against the West? The administration must answer this question by outlining in detail the tangible policy changes which will implement this bold declaration,” said Gatchalian.

While he described the President’s independent foreign policy as “a catalyst for our renewed nationalism,” Gatchalian said that it would be more beneficial to foster stronger trade and commercial ties with all countries in pursuit of more robust economic growth at home.

As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, Gatchalian said that he will observe how Duterte’s declaration would affect trade relations with the West, pointing out that 6 of the country’s top 19 trading partners come from North America or Western Europe.

“Philippine foreign policy should be in tune with economic policy. We must pursue the right mix of policies which will foster job creation and inclusive prosperity here at home,” said Gatchalian.