Pathways fellows Julio Amador III, Dr. Charmaine Willoughby, and Dr. Aries Arugay present findings of their paper “Quad to Zero? Filipino Perceptions of the Quad, the Indo-Pacific, and the Alliance System”.

Asia Pacific Pathways to Progress Foundation Inc. fellows Dr. Charmaine Willoughby, Dr. Aries Arugay and Mr. Julio Amador III presented findings of their latest paper to policy makers,  academics, and members of the diplomatic corps last September 20, 2019 at the Zuellig Building Makati City.

The paper is based on an online survey of 228 Filipino strategic thinkers, scholars, and practitioners on their perceptions of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between Japan, Australia, India, and the United States, specifically about its relevance and possible role in national and regional security policy. 

One finding is that respondents look to the Quad as a power balancing presence in the region, but they also have mixed views about whether its activities may challenge ASEAN centrality. Respondents saw the Quad as a China containment platform, despite pronouncements from Quad countries that it is not targeted toward a specific country. In reaction to this, the roundtable audience noted that Quad countries can better clarify the group’s purpose amid public confusion over its rationale, and communicate the same to foreign publics in the region. The authors of the study argued that Quad countries must bridge the gap between expectations of public and policy elites in the Philippines which seek a more active role for the Quad in regional affairs, and the Quad’s own strategic prudence in handling relations with China.

Another survey finding is that Filipino respondents saw little distinction between the Quad and the Indo-Pacific concept. Some participants at the roundtable argued that if the Quad countries want more diplomatic and strategic engagements in Southeast Asia, it would be more beneficial to place activities under the Indo Pacific concept since it is a more inclusive concept as opposed to the Quad, which is a grouping of non-ASEAN states. They noted that, in this way, efforts of Quad countries in the region would have more legitimacy as being rooted in local stakeholders’ common interest in free and open waterways and airspace.

The public presentation was made possible through the support of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) and the Philippine American Education Foundation (PAEF). The esteemed guests included the Ambassador of India to the Philippines and representatives from the American Embassy in Manila.

The policy paper, partially funded by Pathways, is scheduled to be published this year.