The elephant in the room we need to talk about: Marcos might just turn out to be another Noynoy. This is probably the universe’s way of putting an end to the Marcos-Aquino feud and pave the way for a new leader to rise from the ranks. But fate is cruel. There’s no one on the horizon who has the potential. Vice President Inday Sara Duterte is still raw which is why her father, former President Rodrigo Duterte wanted to mentor her by way of a Bong Go – Duterte ticket in last year’s national elections.
Indeed, Bobi Tiglao, in his Manila Times piece today, points out how “so terribly misinformed about the country’s dispute with China in the South China Sea” President Bongbong Marcos is and that it “is as bad as that of President Benigno Aquino 3rd that led to his unnecessarily belligerent stance toward China, which eventually led to a dangerous standoff at Panatag Shoal and our loss of that territory in 2012.” Tiglao refers to Marcos’s interview by World Economic Forum (WEF) President Børge Brende in Davos last week. Tiglao observes…
Marcos’ saying that China and the Philippines “can’t be sweeping under the rug” the South China Sea dispute would be insulting to the Chinese, whose announced policy on territorial disputes was formulated by China’s revered leader Deng Xiaoping in 1978 that became that country’s doctrine: “Set aside dispute and pursue joint development.” That was the slogan that was based from Deng’s lengthier sentence, “Let us put aside this dispute which future generations may have more wisdom to resolve. ”
Marcos also seemed to boast in the interview: “I would not be doing my job if I did not bring up these issues with President Xi when I had the opportunity.” A source who was with Marcos’ delegation to China early this month confirmed that Xi appeared irritated over the President’s insistence on raising the South China Sea issue. “I’m worried that Xi may just decide to ignore the Philippines totally. We need China more than it needs us.”
It’s clear that China has turned cold based on their reception of Marcos during his visit. It’s clear that Marcos is leaning more to the United States instead of China. How the US will pay him back for this fealty remains to be seen. We’re not the only ASEAN country which has a territorial dispute with China. As it has been pointed out, the Spratlys/Paracels have always been a part of China along with Taiwan. What the US and Britain did to China in terms of their territory is no different from how they grabbed Sabah and gave it to Malaysia.
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Marcos is evidently bent on projecting himself as a leader who matters in the region. That’s part of his redemption arc which is why there is all this hoopla about “selling the Philippines”. But the truth is we’ve fallen behind our ASEAN neighbors. They are more preferred as investment destinations. For as long as the structural deficiencies exist, we will not attract foreign investments at the same level as that hooked in by Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam among others. The oligarchs as a cheering squad look more like they are guarding their turf or looking to become the conduits for potential foreign investors.
President Marcos needs to lay the groundwork first for an environment that investors would find attractive. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel in the process. The templates are there in terms of what Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia have done. The US definitely wants bases in the country to act as deterrent against a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan. I doubt if the US will support us in the same manner as it does Ukraine or even Taiwan. Taiwan can’t defend itself from China. The same is true for us. Not even American bases can prevent a Chinese attack if the latter are determined to take Taiwan back.
China is also our top trading partner. We have seen what can happen if the administration is perceived as hostile as what the late Noynoy Aquino did when he was President. Duterte understood this and this is why he adopted a policy of rapprochement towards China and opened the doors again for cooperation with Russia. If Marcos again allows the US to dictate what it wants for the Philippines, he should think twice. History has established that we had always gotten the short end of the stick either way. Marcos should get the best from his father and Duterte and fuse the two together. But this isn’t likely to happen. F. Sionil Jose, in his analysis of what could’ve been had Ninoy come to power believed that Ninoy wouldn’t betray his social class. Marcos is the same considering that the provenance of his family is actually nouveau riche.
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