Left to right: Ms. Ma. Theresa Alders, Director, Pacific Division, Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs; Hon. Nathaniel Imperial, Assistant Secretary, Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs;  Ms. Susannah Patton, Director, Southeast Asia Program, Lowy Institute; Hon. Richard Sisson, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Australian Embassy in the Philippines; and Dr. Marichu Liwanag, Head, Carlos P. Romulo School of Diplomacy, Foreign Service Institute

The Philippines was deemed a middle power in Asia, ranking 16th in overall comprehensive power out of 26 countries and territories included in the Index, according to the briefing on the key findings of the Asia Power Index 2021. Other middle powers identified were Japan, India, Australia and Indonesia. The Philippines’ positive “power gap”– or how well the country converts its resources into influence in Asia–improved in the same year. It also ranked first in 2022 on the “alliance force multiplier” among 10 other countries including Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, and the United States due to its strong military alliances particularly with the US. Alliance force multiplier is defined as the ratio of combined military capabilities to autonomous military capability.

Also highlighted in the briefing was the Philippines’ impressive improvement (up 35.1) of its diplomatic influence, diplomatic network, multilateral power, and foreign policy, elevating its standing to 14th place (shown below).

Source: “Philippines,” in the Asia Power Index 2021, accessed https://power.lowyinstitute.org/countries/philippines/

The Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs (ASPAC) of the Department of Foreign Affairs, in partnership with the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) and the Australian Embassy in Manila, held the briefing under the FSI’s Mabini Dialogue Series on 09 August 2022 at the Carlos P. Garcia Conference Hall, DFA.

In his opening remarks, ASPAC Assistant Secretary Neal Imperial said that the Asia Power Index “is a tool that we can use as a country to benchmark strengths and weaknesses, and transform them to opportunities as we aspire to achieve our priorities and bolster cooperation with other countries in the region.”

Ms. Susannah Patton, Director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Lowy Institute and Project Lead for the Index, presented the key findings of the 2021 Asia Power Index, the Lowy Institute’s annual data-driven assessment that maps the changing distribution of power in the region. Ms. Patton’s research on Southeast Asia is focused on strategic alignment dynamics and the roles of external powers. The Lowy Institute is a top think tank in Australia.

 Ms. Patton presents the findings of the Lowy Institute’s Asia Power Index Project

Discussions also touched on how the region has become more bipolar and less multipolar as middle powers lag significantly behind the US and China in comprehensive power. Other highlights include the impact of COVID-19 in driving down the comprehensive power of almost all states in 2021, and Japan ranking first in the 2021 Power Gap, which demonstrates its efficient use of its limited resources to wield substantial economic, cultural, and diplomatic influence in the region.

The briefing was followed by a short open forum with questions on the data gathering process as well as emerging threats that could affect the current ranking of the countries in the Asia Power Index.

Officials from the DFA, the FSI, and the Australian Embassy in the Philippines attended the event.