Three years since the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia signed the Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement (TCA) in response to a spike in kidnap-for-ransom incidents in the Sulu and Celebes Seas, a relative calm has returned to the waters straddling the borders between the three countries. Although the agreement is seen to be contributing to maritime security in the region, there are also some questions about its sustainability and significance.

Manila-based Asia Pacific Pathways to Progress Foundation, Inc. (APPFI) and the Philippine office of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), organized a Regional Forum on Maritime Security Cooperation in the Sulu - Celebes Seas, with a particular focus on the role that the TCA has played in ensuring peace and stability in the area. With the support of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in the Philippines, the forum was held in New World Manila Bay Hotel on September 2 and 3.

In a dialogue between Philippine China experts and a group of scholars from the Guangxi University, agricultural and manufacturing sectors seem to emerge as potential areas of cooperation between Philippines and Guangxi Province.

According to Mr. Jeffrey Ng, Vice President of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Trade and Industry (FFCCCII), Guangxi’s agriculture compliments the stagnation of the sector in the Philippines. The province imports fruits and rice from Southeast Asia.

SL Agritech president and Sterling Group founder Henry Lim Bon Liong received the Order of Lakandula for his significant contributions to Philippine society as a businessman, leader and philanthropist.

Pathways Fellows Lucio Blanco Pitlo III and Aaron Jed Rabena have been actively going the rounds of conferences, discussions and media engagements. At the Lido Wednesday Roundtable held on June 19, Pitlo and Rabena discussed issues of fisheries and marine resources in the context of bilateral relations with China before an audience of Manila-based reporters. This was in the wake of the Recto Bank boat sinking incident. Several news agencies, including GMA, Rappler, and Philippine News quoted their remarks in the media forum.

With them were resource persons from the Bureau of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources and Philippine Coast Guard.

On July 10, both were guest speakers at another Lido media forum, held to mark the third year anniversary of the arbitration ruling. The other notable speakers were former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, former Senator Francisco Tatad, and political analyst Richard Heydarian.