Foreign relations of the Philippines

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The foreign relations of the Philippines is tightly controlled with its relations with its Southeast Asian neighbors and the United States.


Foreign policy

Countries (blue) with embassies of the Philippines (red).

The fundamental Philippine attachment to democracy and human rights is reflected in its foreign policy and is also a staunch and a close ally of the United States. On October 18, 2003 President George W. Bush became the second President of the US (Eisenhower was first) to speak in the Philippine Congress. He praised the Philippines for being a bastion of democracy in the east and for being America's oldest ally in Asia. In the past years the Philippines has also began to establish closer ties to its other former colonizer, Spain. The King and Queen of Spain attended the Centennial celebration of Philippine Independence from Spain on June 12, 1998 in recognition of a shared colonial past and similarities in culture.

Philippine soldiers and police have participated in a number of multilateral civilian police and peacekeeping operations such as in Iraq where the Philippines sent appro 100 or so doctors, soldiers, nurses and police in the area, until they were recalled to the Philippines in order to ensure the safe return of a Philippine hostage. Philippine Army General Jaime de los Santos served as the first commander of the UN Peacekeeping Operation in East Timor. The Philippine Government also has been active in efforts to reduce tensions among rival claimants to the territories and waters of the resource-rich South China Sea.

Relations with specific countries and regions

East Timor

Relations began as soon as that country was multilaterally recognized as an independent state. The Philippines was involved in the UN security mission there. The two countries are now engaged in growing trade and commerce, as well as cultural and educational exchanges. This can also be attributed to the fact that both countries are Catholic majority.


Relations with Pakistan have become quite rosy when Pakistan's head of state, Pervez Musharraf visited the Philippines in April 18, 2005. The visit was to boost trade, commerce, and industry between the two countries.

South Korea

The Philippines fought together with South Korea during the Korean War. South Korea is also one of the largest trading partners of the Philippines.


The Philippines is the only Asian country in the United Nations that voted for the creation of a Jewish state in 1947. Formal diplomatic relations with Israel began in 1957.


As the lone Spanish colony in Asia for almost three and a half centuries, the Philippines is the Spaniards' closest ally in the Far East, primarily due to a shared culture and religion. Philippine President Gloria Arroyo concluded her second state visit in Spain in July 2006, bringing along millions of dollars of Spanish investments, particularly in Tourism and Information Technology. The Spanish king, Juan Carlos, also reiterated in Mrs. Arroyo's visit, his desire for the Philippines to re-establish Spanish as the official language of the country. He and his wife, Queen Sofia attended the 1998 centennial celebrations in Manila, commemorating 100 years of independence from Spain

United States of America

The United States is one of the closest economic and political allies of the Philippines. Primarily, the two countries are partners in counterterrorism, as they both share intelligence. Also, the two countries conduct military exercises in Mindanao, and are both heavily involved in trade and commerce.

File:Arroyo bush whitehouse.jpg
Philippine and United States Presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and George W. Bush waves the crowd from the balcony of the White House during the former's State Visit to Washington D.C. on May 2003, with First Lady Laura Bush and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.

In recognition of its efforts in the War on Terrorism, in October 2003 U.S. President George W. Bush designated the Philippines as a major non-NATO ally.

Historically, the Philippines was a former American colony and later American Commonwealth in the first half of the 20th Century. The United States granted the Philippines independence (the first country in the world to achieve independence after the Second World War) on July 4, 1946, America's 170th anniversary of independence. Both countries signed a Mutual Defense Treaty in 1951. The United States then formed the South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) along with the Philippines and six other countries (Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Thailand, France and the United Kingdom) in order to defend Southeast Asia, South Asia and Southwest Pacific from Communist aggression.

The Philippines fought for and later with the United States in the First World War (1914-1918), the Second World War (1939-1945), the Korean War (1950-1955), the Vietnam War (1960's-70's) and recently in the Global War on Terrorism (2001-present) and 2003 Iraq War.

The United States continued its military assistance to the country and sent military specialists to train Filipino soldiers about counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism.

Participation in International Organizations


International disputes


See also: Sabah dispute

Sabah, the largest region which the Philippines claim, is now an integral part of Malaysia. On January 23, 1878, Sulu Sultan Jamalul Alam leased his territory in Borneo, in which is now Sabah, to Austrian Gustavus von Overbeck. The Sultan was paid 5,000 Ringgit every year for the lease. In 1920, despite calls made by Washington to London regarding Sabah, the latter was still made a crown colony of the United Kingdom. On September 16, 1963, the United Kingdom formally ceded Sabah to Malaysia. Philippine Presidents Diosdado Macapagal and Ferdinand Marcos openly claimed Sabah. The latter even ordered Sabah to be put into the Philippine map. Despite challenges of the Philippine government to bring the matter of the dispute to the ICJ, or International Court of Justice, Malaysia still rejects those calls. During 2003, violent mass deportations of illegal Filipinos residing in Sabah resulted in more clamor for the Sabah claim. Up to this day, Malaysia still pays the annual rent of 5,000 Malaysian Ringgit to the Sultan's heirs.

Sulawesi Sea Islands

The case of Sipadan and Ligitan, which are in dispute between Malaysia and Indonesia, was taken into the ICJ, in which the former won. Sipadan and Ligitan are technically part of Sabah state, and should therefore, also, be of the Sulu Sultanate's heir, the Philippines.

Spratly Islands

The Spratly Islands are a group of islands, reefs, and rocks located about 300 kilometers left of Aborlan, Palawan. The Philippines, along with China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Brunei expressed claims. The Philippines officially staked a claim to the islands during the United Nations convention, although it was first expressed in 1956, when Tomas Cloma, a Philippine mariner, officially declared the islands as a protectorate of the Philippines. Based on proximity and on the United Nations Archipelagic Doctrine, the Philippines can claim the Spratlys as an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and thus its' own. Whether these argument (or any other used by the Philippines) would hold up in court is debatable but possibly moot, as the PRC and Vietnam seem unwilling to legally substantiate their claims and have rejected Philippine challenges to take the dispute to the World Maritime Tribunal in Hamburg.

Scarborough Shoals

The Sacrborough Shoals, located approximately 200 kilometers west of Palauig town of Zambales province of the Philippines, are claimed by both the Philippines and PRC.

Illicit drugs

The country, an archipelago, serves as breeding ground for locally produced marijuana and hashish and is possible that it is illegally shipped to East Asia, the United States, and other Western markets; serves as a transit point for heroin and crystal methamphetamine.

See also

External links

Original Source

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