PH must fix domestic issues, rely on own strength to thrive, says ex-US envoy to ADB

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 20) – A former United States envoy said the Philippine government must address pressing issues in its backyard and have a strong backbone, rather than being too reliant on superpowers like the United States, China, and Russia.

Curtis Chin, a former U.S. Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank, said the Philippines must find its inner strengths to resolve its domestic problems such as corruption, bureaucracy, and inequality that continue to persist.

"We must recognize that the Philippines' destiny is in its own hands and a strong Philippines will require a stronger economy and will require the president of the Philippines to address what I call that little bric of bureaucracy, regulation, inequality and corruption, you know," Chin told CNN Philippines’ Rico Hizon on The Final Word on Wednesday.

Chin said a strong economy is the best backbone for Manila to get rid of its societal issues--a big factor for other nations to forge stronger ties with the Philippines.

“I hope that’s what lies ahead for the Philippines regardless of who is the U.S. president,” said Chin, reacting on the possible implications of a Democratic Party victory in the U.S. presidential elections in November. "It's not just who is the U.S. president but what will the Philippine president do."

"From my perspective as a long-time friend of the Philippines and a frequent visitor, I have faith in the Philippines, but it needs to free up the Filipino people by addressing those domestic issues," he added.

In his State of the Nation Address last July 27, President Rodrigo Duterte stressed he cannot go to war against Beijing over the West Philippine Sea dispute, calling himself "inutile" in that aspect.

Duterte also sought the help of Moscow in procuring COVID-19 vaccines for Filipinos, even offering himself to be the first to take it to prove its safety.

However, Duterte has been critical of Washington and in February ordered the serving of notice of termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which laid out protocols between American soldiers in Philippine soil and Filipino soldiers in American territory. However, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin Jr. announced in June that the VFA’s termination will be suspended "in light of the political and other developments in the region."