According to former Senate President Manny Villar, President Rodrigo Duterte’s foreign policy has been tested and proven to be effective by other Asian leaders before, Villar added that distancing from United States has been beneficial to those who done it before.
In an opinion piece published in Business Mirror Tuesday (Oct. 25), former Senate President Manny Villar cited former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the late Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew as two Asian leaders who also adopted an independent foreign policy during their terms in office.
As Malaysia’s prime minister from 1981 to 2003, Villar said Mahathir slammed Western economic policies towards developing countries and pushed through with the imposition of death penalty for drug traffickers even if it resulted in the execution of foreign convicts.
In lieu of relying on Western countries for trade, Mahathir adopted a “Look East” policy, which allowed Malaysia to establish closer diplomatic and economic relations with other Asian countries, like Japan and Korea.
“During the 1997 Asian financial crisis, when Asian countries readily obtained loans from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, Mahathir refused to seek relief from the two US-led institutions and preferred domestic measures to survive the crisis,” Villar recalled.
For his part, Lee proceeded with instituting radical reforms in Singapore despite Western criticism that his plans were repressive.
The changes put in place by Lee allowed Singapore to jump from a Third World country to a First World nation.
Villar said the success stories of Malaysia and Singapore show investors are not spooked when countries adopt an independent foreign policy.
For the former Senate President, an independent foreign policy does not mean making enemies out of some countries but promoting national interest above others.
“What we need, and what I believe the President wants to establish, is not a pro-US foreign policy or a pro-China foreign policy, but a pro-Filipino foreign policy. We can be friends with all countries because it serves our interest to do so,” he said.
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