The Philippines and the Arbitral Tribunal's award: a sombre victory and uncertain times ahead
The Philippines is in the midst of a transition. The astonishing rise and decisive victory of Rodrigo Duterte in the presidential election in May 2016 marked a significant turning point in Philippine politics. Manila's longstanding territorial and maritime boundary disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea are among the most immediate and intricate foreign policy challenges facing President Duterte. However, in an unexpected twist, previously acrimonious bilateral relations with China have demonstrated signs of improvement while Duterte's relentless and fiercely critical rhetoric against the United States has placed the country's robust and longstanding security and defence relations with America in question. This turn of events heralds uncertain times for both the Philippines and Southeast Asia.