For the first time in Philippine history, four former presidents returned to Malacañang Wednesday to discuss with the incumbent President and members of the National Security Council (NSC) “vital policies and strategies” for the future of the country.
Former presidents Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Benigno Aquino 3rd gathered at the Palace yesterday afternoon for the NSC meeting convened by President Rodrigo Duterte.
It was the first time that Arroyo set foot at the Palace since she stepped down from the presidency six years ago.
Discussed during the meeting that started at 3 p.m. were various important issues such as the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration that invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim on the West Philippines Sea, the peace and development roadmap and updates on the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said 42 people were invited for yesterday’s meeting. Among those invited were the Senate President, House Speaker, minority leaders of both houses, chairmen of the committees on defense and security, peace and order, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency director general, Armed Forces chief,
Philippine National Police chief, and the director of the National Bureau of Investigation.
Also present was Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.
The NSC was created during the Quirino administration through Executive Order No. 330, dated July 1, 1950. It was reorganized by virtue of EO 115, series of 1986.
The President, together with 35 members of the NSC from the executive and legislative
branch, was to discuss the recent ruling of the United Nation’s tribunal on our sea dispute with China.
“The President will lead the NSC in a multipartisan dialogue in order to agree on vital policies and strategies on important matters, including the recent ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the West Philippine Sea,” the Palace said in a statement on Tuesday.
Malacañang said an overview of the road map for peace and development was to be presented in the first council meeting.
Duterte decided to convene the NSC in the wake of the arbitral tribunal’s ruling invalidating China’s massive claim over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Ramos, a member of the council, has agreed to be the country’s special envoy to Beijing.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, home to vital shipping lanes and also believed to hold vast mineral reserves. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have often overlapping claims.