The National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP) welcomed more than 70 government officials, diplomats, and security scholars in the latest iteration of the Security Lounge for National Security Administrators held on 4 May 2022 at the NDCP Auditorium.
Hosted by the Philippine Center of Excellence in Defense, Development, and Security (PCEDS), the Security Lounge is the first large-scale, face-to-face conference of the NDCP as the national government eases COVID-19 restrictions. This year’s event focused on the review and outlook of the Philippines’ foreign policy and national security.
Prof Dr Renato C De Castro of De La Salle University (DLSU), and Module Director for International Security Affairs of the MNSA program, delivered the keynote speech. According to him, the current administration’s appeasement strategy downgraded the country’s longstanding alliance with the U.S. as President Rodrigo Duterte questions Washington’s willingness to defend the Philippines in the event of an armed engagement with China over territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea.
Security scholars and practitioners delved into four specific topics: Mr Edcel John A Ibarra of the Foreign Service Institute discussed Manila’s relations with Beijing and Washington; Amb Laura Quiambao-Del Rosario, President of Miriam College, tackled the future of the Philippines in terms of international relations; Dir Maria Lourdes V Santelices of the National Security Council assessed the country’s food security; while Dr Francis Rico C Domingo of DLSU went through the national strategy in contested cyberspace.
Three scholars from the NDCP, on one hand, served as reactors during the conference: Mr Mico A Galang, Defense Research Officer II; Prof Dr Alan A Lachica, Professor III, and Prof Dr Jose Santos R Carandang VI MNSA, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean. Dr Theresita V Atienza, President of Quezon City University and Module Director for Technology and Security of the MNSA program, was also present at the event as a reactor.
In his opening remarks, Capt Aldrin C Cuña PN (Res), MNSA, Executive Vice President of the NDCP, said it is salient to revisit critical issues in the country’s foreign policy and national security for the past six years under the Duterte administration. He argued that it is vital for the next president to be adequately informed about the existing policies and initiatives and determine which need continuity and prioritization.
Meanwhile, BGen Archimedes H Viaje AFP (Ret), PhD, MNSA, CESE, President of the NDCP, underscored in his closing remarks that it is the College’s bureaucratic mission to be able to plan and prepare the National Security Agenda for the next administration regardless of who the next commander-in-chief will be. He also urged the participants to continue engaging with the NDCP on security matters that require deep conversations with a critical mass of observers, analysts, policymakers, and leaders.
The PCEDS-led conference was also broadcasted via Zoom Teleconferencing and Facebook Live, recording over a hundred online participants.