The tone Inquirer columnist Randy David himself takes in his piece “Foreign policy in [Marcos’s SONA]” likely mirrors the conundrum he and members of his camp find themselves in today. President Bongbong Marcos is the archenemy of the Opposition and yet he has co-opted their agenda of bringing the Philippines back into America’s arms. This is why the leftist-militants are a lost cause. They don’t have any ideological underpinning. Its all about a seat at the table of power. The romanticism associated with being a rebel has been lost. At least the Yellowidiots continue to tout neoliberal ideology, which resonates with Gen Z and the millennials.
Duterte’s recent audience with [China’s President Xi Jinping], in which the Chinese leader praised him for “resolutely [making] the strategic choice to improve relations with China in an attitude of being responsible to the people and to history” and admonished him to “continue to play an important role in the friendly cooperation” between the two countries, is nothing less than a slap on the face of Mr. Marcos. It has no precedent. Not even Mr. Marcos’ admission that he knew about the visit and that he “welcome[s] any new lines of communication,” could remove the sting from that scarcely veiled rebuke.
Was former President Rodrigo Duterte’s China visit really an affront to Marcos as David asserts? It can be construed as such but the cover was the former president was there to see the school which the Chinese built to honor his mother. A picture speaks a thousand words and the difference in the demeanor of Xi when Marcos went on a state visit as opposed to the optics of Xi meeting Duterte was obvious. Xi made sure that the optics conveyed his preference of Duterte over Marcos.
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Duterte is the consummate political player. He didn’t say anything but with Xinhua, China’s official state news agency, releasing the story with the accompanying picture, the message was conveyed to the intended recipient. Duterte continues to enjoy a direct line to Xi. Pragmatically, it can also be spun to point out that the former president made representations with Xi to convey that not all Filipinos are pro-America. This is important in case Uncle Sam decides to provoke China into a conflict in the South China Sea similar to what happened in Ukraine with Russia.
Ultimately, it boils down to a choice between the two hegemons; China or the US. The world has changed so much that it can’t be the usual good-versus-evil narrative that the Americans have been playing since they became dominant with Pax Americana. By the end of the 18th century, the American defense perimeter began with the Philippines. China is only claiming the South China Sea. We must not forget the US reaction when the USSR built missile bases in Cuba. This is why Russia went into Ukraine. It’s nothing but a proxy war with Ukraine on the losing end.
Since March, the US has been conducting non-stop exercises with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and its regional allies. AUKUS, the trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the US, is set to become the region’s equivalent of Western Europe’s North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will not allow this and it is unfortunate that we are again identified as the American lackey in the region.
David himself understands the risk this entails but his regret is the fact that it wasn’t the Opposition that delivered on the American demand, but Marcos because he prioritized his family’s vindication before the world instead of the welfare of his countrymen. It remains to be seen what Marcos has planned after the midpoint of his term. By that time, Filipinos will have come to their own conclusions. This is why the other political players are looking at 2025 already. The same is true with Duterte. He’s keeping his cards close to his chest but he’s made it clear to the current administration that they can’t afford to take him lightly or even write him off.
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