In the contested South China Sea issues, there are increasing concerns about public agendas fueled by private interests. The structures of Albert del Rosario's think-tank and its many bedfellows are a case in point

在南海问题上,越来越多人担心公共议程由私人利益推动。菲律宾前外长艾伯特·德尔·罗萨里奥(Albert del Rosario)的智库及其众多合作机构就是一个典型的例子。

In February, the US-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) released a heavily-promoted report alleging that China sought to intimidate Filipinos into ceasing construction work on the Thitu Island (Pag-asa) in the South China Sea, coupled with heavily-touted other reports about “Chinese militarization” of the South China Sea.” Yet local fishermen are apprehensive about the filing and its timing since they do not feel harassed by the Chinese anymore, according to Philippine GMA News.


Nevertheless, media carousels have intensified after the visit of US Secretary State Mike Pompeo, various US "freedom of navigation" exercises, the debate about the review of the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty, and the impending Philippine midterm elections.

尽管如此,继美国国务卿迈克·蓬佩奥(Mike Pompeo)访菲、美国多次进行“航行自由行动”、《美菲防御条约》审查争论,以及即将举行的菲中期选举等事件后,媒体报道愈演愈烈。

Every think-tank is entitled to its voice, but neither AMTI nor Rosario’s think-tank are as “independent” as claimed – and the latter is haunted by allegations of perceived conflicts of interests, according to its Philippine critics.


Interest conflicts and energy reserves


Educated in the United States, del Rosario served as Philippine US Ambassador in the 2000s and Secretary of Foreign Affairs in the Benigno Aquino III government (2010-16). His ties with the Aquino political dynasty go back to the presidency of Corazon Aquino (1986-92), when he accompanied her on state visits to the US.

罗萨里奥曾于美国接受教育,21世纪初担任菲律宾驻美国大使,随后在贝尼格诺·阿基诺三世(Benigno Aquino III)政府任期内(2010至2016年)担任菲外长。罗萨里奥与阿基诺政治王朝的渊源可以追溯至科拉松·阿基诺(Corazon Aquino)执政时期(1986至1992年),彼时他曾陪同科拉松对美国进行过国事访问。

While del Rosario is portrayed as a diplomat, he is also a business executive. In the Aquino government, he was reportedly the wealthiest, with a net worth of almost $14 million in 2013. Prior to government, his business career covered many industries, corporate chairmanships, and directorships. These ties were officially suspended during his government activities - but not effectively.


In February 2010, Philippine government granted Forum Energy, the partner of Philex Mining, the right to explore oil and gas in Reed Bank. At the time, del Rosario served as director of Philex, which is led by Manuel V. Pangilingan, a wealthy businessman and the CEO of First Pacific Company, a Hong Kong-based investment firm which in the Philippines has major interests in telecom (PLDT), banking (Metro Pacific Investments) and mining (Philex).

2010年2月,菲政府批准菲力克斯矿业公司(Philex Mining)的合作伙伴论坛能源科技公司(Forum Energy)在礼乐滩勘探石油和天然气的权利。当时,罗萨里奥在Philex担任董事,该公司由富商曼努埃尔·V·潘希利南(Manuel V. Pangilingan)领导,而此人也是第一太平公司(First Pacific Company)的首席执行官。第一太平公司是一家总部位于香港的投资公司,在菲拥有电信业务(菲律宾长途电话公司[PLDT])、银行业务(首都太平洋投资公司[Metro Pacific Investments])及矿业(菲力克斯)的主要股权。

In February 2011, President Aquino appointed del Rosario as acting Foreign Affairs Secretary. Reportedly, he left the Philex board in March, when he also stepped down from his post as non-executive director in First Pacific. In January 2013, Philippine Department of Energy deferred to the Department of Foreign Affairs the decision to grant permits concerning the exploration and mining activities at the Reed Bank "because the area was part of the disputed waters being claimed by China.”


That gave del Rosario, as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, effective authority to influence concessions on Reed Bank.


Indeed, the friction in South China Sea involves more than sovereign interests of several countries in the region. According to a 2013 report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Reed Bank could hold up to 5.4 billion barrels of oil and 55.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. So Philex Mining and its associates, including del Rosario, could gain hugely from concession rights.


At the same time, the Philippines also filed the arbitration case against China. And in 2014, a year later, del Rosario and Aquino achieved the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which again opened the country to U.S. military, ships, and planes— for the first time since 1991. That's when efforts began to deepen US ties with Rosario’s think-tank, Stratbase (Albert Del Rosario) Institute for Strategic and International Studies (ADRi), which evolved in parallel with the Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a major US think-tank close to State Department, Pentagon and Wall Street.

与此同时,菲律宾也提起了针对中国的南海仲裁案。一年后的2014年,罗萨里奥和阿基诺与美国达成了《加强防务合作协议》。该协议标志着自1991年以来首次对美军、船只和飞机开放菲律宾基地。从那时起,罗萨里奥的智库Stratbase (Albert Del Rosario) Institute for Strategic and International Studies(ADRi)与美国的关系不断深化,与之同步发展的还有“亚洲海事透明倡议”。该倡议由与美国国务院、国防部五角大楼及华尔街有密切关系的美国战略与国际研究中心(CSIS)发起。

The organizational links are so diffuse that they require a chart (Figure).


Figure    Simplified depiction of Rosario’s ADRi’s associations 


In May 2015, the CSIS/AMTI launched a three-year U.S.-Philippines Strategic Initiative in Washington, with speeches by del Rosario, and William Cohen, former US defense secretary. It was supported by Rosario's ADRi and the Philippine Trade Foundation (PTF), which is linked with the free-market Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) and partners with US Asia Foundation, Australia’s Foreign Affairs Department, USAID, World Bank, and Grover Norquist's ultra-conservative tax lobby.

2015年5月,美国战略与国际研究中心/“亚洲海事透明倡议”在华盛顿启动了为期三年的“美菲战略倡议”,罗萨里奥和美国前国防部长威廉·科恩(William Cohen)到场发表演讲。该倡议获得罗萨里奥智库ADRi与菲律宾贸易基金会(Philippine Trade Foundation)的支持。该基金会与自由市场经济自由基金会(Foundation for Economic Freedom)有关联,同时与美国亚洲基金会(US Asia Foundation)、澳大利亚外交部、美国国际开发署、世界银行,以及格罹弗·诺奎斯特(Grover Norquist)的极端保守税收游说团体均有合作关系。

The assumption was that Senator Hillary Clinton would be the next US president and that the US-Philippine Strategic Initiative would promote “a greater sense of urgency" to deepen the bilateral trade and military partnership. 

当时,舆论认为参议员希拉里·克林顿(Hillary Clinton)将成为下一任美国总统,而“美菲战略倡议”将加深美菲双边贸易与军事伙伴关系的“巨大紧迫感”。

On February 8, 2016, del Rosario, citing health reasons, announced he would resign as Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Then, the 2016 Philippine election caused a meltdown in Aquino’s Liberal Party, del Rosario’s core constituency. While sustaining US ties, President Duterte began to recalibrate foreign policy for a better economic relationship with China. Clinton lost the presidency to Trump who buried Obama's TPP trade deal, while questioning US alliances - the twin cornerstones of del Rosario's bilateral initiative.


Think-tanks, governments, and moneymakers


The fight was lost, but not the battle, del Rosario concluded. His health issues did not stop Pangilinan from re-appointing him as an independent non-executive director of First Pacific in July 2016, just weeks before the release of the Arbitration Decision. As his think-tank and its foreign associates intensified their activities, the boundaries between public agendas and private interests dissolved further.


Rosario has long, historical business ties with Manuel Pangilingan, who is also the co-chair of Rosario’s think-tank. Due to public controversies about its water (Maynilad) and electric-power arms (Meralco), Recently, Pangilingan’s Metro Pacific has not avoided negative publicity. In turn, Philex and First Pacific are linked with Salim Group, which was created by Indonesia’s richest businessman Sudono Salim, who made his fortune in the Sukarno and Suharto years. Today, Salim Group is led by his son Anthoni Salim whose net worth is $5.3 billion. The Salims own 44% of First Pacific, which has assets of $17.2 billion in 6 countries. In the Philippines, these assets also include major stakes through PLDT in media, such as Philippine Star, BusinessWorld, TV5, Bloomberg Philippines and radio stations.

罗萨里奥与曼努埃尔·潘希利南过去有着长期商业关系,潘希利南也是罗萨里奥智库的联合主席。近日,受公众对其水务公司(梅尼勒水务公司[Maynilad])和电力公司(马尼拉电力公司[Meralco])争议的影响,潘希利南的首都太平洋投资公司一直饱受负面消息的困扰。而菲力克斯与第一太平公司同三林集团(Salim Group)有所关联。三林集团是印尼首富林绍良(Sudono Salim)创办的公司,他在苏加诺(Sukarno)和苏哈托(Suharto)任期内创造了巨额财富。如今,三林集团由他的儿子林逢生(Anthoni Salim)执掌,公司净资产接近53亿美元。第一太平公司在六个国家的资产总计172亿美元,而三林家族持有第一太平公司44%的股份。第一太平公司在菲持有的资产包括通过菲律宾长途电话公司获得的媒体界大额股份,如《菲律宾星报》(Philippine Star)、《商业世界报》(BusinessWorld)、TV5、彭博菲律宾及广播电台。

Through its board members and executives, Rosario’s ADRi is joined with its parent, Stratbase, an “advisory and research consultancy” founded in 2004, and Bower Group Asia led by Ernest Z. Bower IV. With equity and intelligence arms, Stratbase is the Philippine partner of Bower Group Asia. Between the mid-80s and mid-2000s, Ernest Z. Bower led US-ASEAN Business Council, which had been housed in the US Chamber of Commerce. He remains senior non-resident Southeast advisor at CSIS, embedded with AMTI, and board member of Rosario’s think-tank.

罗萨里奥的ADRi通过董事会成员及高管与2004年创办的Stratbase“咨询与研究顾问”母公司、由欧内斯特·Z·鲍尔(Ernest Z. Bower)领导的鲍尔亚洲集团(Bower Group Asia)建立了合作关系。Stratbase凭借股本与情报资源,成为鲍尔亚洲集团在菲的合作伙伴。1980年代中期至2000年代中期,鲍尔曾领导美国—东盟商务理事会(US-ASEAN Business Council),该理事会曾隶属于美国商会。如今,鲍尔仍是美国战略与国际研究中心的东南亚非驻所高级顾问、“亚洲海事透明倡议”成员及罗萨里奥智库董事。

Due to interlocking leaderships, Stratbase’s head Victor Andres Manhit serves as ADRi’s President, heads Bower Asia Group’s Philippine branch and is a fellow at the FEF. Along with Pangilinan’s mining interest, the ADRi’s trustees also include former president of Philippine Mines and the incumbent ICC judge Raul C. Pangalangan, former publisher of Philippine Daily Inquirer. Inquirer has been critical of the Duterte government.

各组织间领导层存在重叠,Stratbase的首席执行官维克多·安德烈斯·曼赫特(Victor Andres Manhit)也是ADRi的总裁,领导鲍尔亚洲集团菲律宾分公司,同时也是经济自由基金会的研究员。除潘希利南的矿业利益外,ADRi的受托人还包括菲律宾矿业公司(Philippine Mines)前总裁、海牙国际刑事法院现任法官Raul C. Pangalangan、《菲律宾每日问询者报》(Philippine Daily Inquirer)前出版商劳尔·C·庞吉兰根(Raul C. Pangalangan)。而《菲律宾每日问询者报》对杜特尔特政府持批评态度。

Public agendas and private interests


Here's how the process plays out in the media: In a typical sequence, the CSIS/AMTI releases a commentary and satellite photos of contested spots in the South China Sea, which leads to commentaries by ADRi’s members, which are then promoted in the Philippines, especially in the country's foreign-owned media, such as Rappler (linked with US-based North Base Media and billionaire Pierre Omidyar’s network) and by media properties close to Mangilingan/Rosario and their allies. Next, these articles are heavily headlined in international media, which re-publish the pieces or interview their authors as "independent" Filipino voices, even if they are ADRi’s non-resident fellows and CSIS/AMTI authors in the US (e.g., Richard J. Heydarian).

媒体在该过程中的角色如下:通常,美国战略与国际研究中心/“亚洲海事透明倡议”发布南海争议地区的评论与卫星照片,随后ADRi成员发表评论,并在菲律宾宣传推广。其间,驻菲外媒发挥着重要作用,如拉普勒新闻网站(Rappler,与美国North Base Media及亿万富翁彼埃尔·奥米迪亚[Pierre Omidyar]的网络有关),与潘希利南或罗萨里奥及其盟友关系密切的媒体也在宣传中推波助澜。接下来,这些文章将以转载或作者采访的形式登上国际媒体的头版头条,获得大肆报道,即便是出自ADRi非驻所研究员及美国战略与国际研究中心/“亚洲海事透明倡议”作者(如理查德·J·海德林[Richard J. Heydarian])之手,也会被冠以“独立”的菲律宾人观点。

Internationally, truly independent think-tanks shun interlocking directors and dual structures with private, particularly foreign interests to ensure their integrity. Rosario’s ADRi is very different; and that’s its prerogative.


Unfortunately, the net effect is that it is not clear whether ADRi seeks to influence Philippine decision-makers, who promote Filipino interests, or their American counterparts, who push US interests – as evidenced by its tight cooperation with the AMTI that has been criticized for bias and alarmist hyping in the region.


The perceived private interests and potentially huge private gains of ADRi chairs confound issues further, which is perhaps why del Rosario's toughest Filipino critics have compared his alleged conflicts of interest with those of US Vice President Dick Cheney and Halliburton. The comparison may be uncomfortable, but the substance of the argument is the same.

ADRi智库主席的私人利益及潜在的巨大私人收益使问题变得更加混乱,这或许就能解释为何对罗萨里奥最尖锐的菲律宾批评者将上述公共议程和私人利益间的冲突与美国副总统迪克·切尼(Dick Cheney)和哈利伯顿公司(Halliburton)的利益冲突进行比较。这种比较或许令人感到不适,但争论的实质内容是相同的。