Rodrigo "Rod" Kapunan

Columnist-writer Rodrigo “Rod” Kapunan is the voice behind the popular “Backbencher,” a column previously featured in the Daily Tribune from April 2001 thru March 2010 but later became a regular item in the Manila Standard Today from 2011 thru the present. He is also a regular contributor of the China Daily Global Edition and the Global Times, both internationally circulated newspapers.

Academically speaking, Rod earned his undergraduate degree course in Political Science and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of the East. He has also earned some Master’s units in Political Science at the University of the Philippines in Manila. Having a background in politics and the law, it is not difficult to see where his interests and leanings toward various political issues might have been rooted.

Rod has been vocal about his views on many issues that continuously confront Philippine politics and government as a writer and political analyst. He has written and published relevant articles and pieces that offered alternative views towards understanding the Philippine political culture and economy. These publications include “Reflections on Martial Law: Saving the Republic,” which is an analysis of the circumstances that led to the imposition of martial law by the late President Ferdinand Marcos; “Revolution from the Center: A Quest for Peace and Progress, Vol. I” which is a political and historical analysis of the achievements of the late President Ferdinand Marcos; and “Labor-Only Contractors: New Generation of Cabos” published in the Philippine Law Journal, Vol. 65 Nos. 5 & 6 in March 1991.[1]

Rod Kapunan is also an active member of the Huaren Society Association of the Philippines, Inc. and the Philippines-China Friendship Club. As a member of the Huaren Society Association of the Philippines, he has given a talk on the issue of the conflict in the South China Sea, and on several occasions, as a guest speaker and resource person on topics involving Philippines and China relations, at the GNN Talk News, with Mr. Herman Tiu Laurel as host. 

As a columnist, he has written several articles on China’s foreign policies, culture, and shared community principles enunciated by Chinese President Xi Jinping and other important issues involving the South China Sea disputes. In fact, on various occasions, he has accepted invitations to speak as a political analyst and resource person on the critical issues involving the Philippines and China. To name a few, he was a resource speaker at the Jinan University in Guangzhou, China, in 2018, where he talked about the current development of domestic policies in the Philippines and its implication to the Sino-Philippine Relation; as resource speaker at the South China Sea BOAO Sub-Forum for Asia in 2019 held at Hainan, China, an invitation extended by H.E. Ambassador Zhao Jianhua of the People’s Republic of China thru the National Institute for South China Sea Studies (NICSS). For the latter, he delved into the topic of opportunities available to the Philippines and for “Further Cooperation at the New Stage of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.”[2]

As may be gleaned from his writings, Rod is keen on the support and aid extended by China to the Philippines as an Asian neighbor. Contrary to the mindset that has blinded many Filipinos today, he sees the Philippines-China cooperation as an opportunity more than a threat to the country’s economy and security. As he wrote in his column back in August 2019, there are five critical areas that the Philippine government must look closely at if it is indeed sincere in enabling the economy to thrive, to wit:

“One is building bilateral financial cooperation in which both sides agreed to revisit the current currency swap arrangement to manage foreign exchange risk.

Two, exploring areas of cooperation in infrastructure, education, tourism, technology, power, ports, and information technology.

Three, enhancing agricultural and trade cooperation and assessing the growth potential in the agricultural sector and shared opportunities where the countries can mutually gain benefits such as the export of Chinese-made agricultural equipment, expansion of Philippine export to China such as tropical fruits such as banana, coconut and pineapple; and “high-end” marine and fishery products like Lapu-Lapu, Bangus, tuna, crab and shrimps.

Four, addressing reported trade gaps, improving exchange information on export/import data, and curbing the entry of illegal drugs from China to the Philippines.

And five, assisting in the joint development of tourist areas in the country which China expressed interest in establishing hotels to cater to the increasing number of Chinese tourists arriving in the country.”

It is in this light and reason that the Award for Promoting Philippine-China Understanding (APPCU) recognizes the efforts and contributions made by Rod Kapunan as a writer, columnist, and political analyst in forging better relations with China and by acknowledging the important role of China in aiding the development of the Philippine economy. 

[1] Profile of Rodrigo Kapunan

[2] Ibid.