Is the Philippines the Looming Ukraine of Asia?

Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos welcomed Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for a one-day visit to the Philippines after he spoke at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore which Marcos attended last week as the keynote speaker.

The visit drew a comparison at the situation of Ukraine, which is seen by geopolitical analysts as engaged in a proxy war for the US against Russia.

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In less than two years, the war between Russia and Ukraine has killed and injured over 500,000 people, major cities have been bombed to the ground, and the long-term damage to infrastructure is incalculable.

Zelenskyy led thousands of his people to death and destruction of his country

More than 10 million people have been displaced, with over 6.3 million seeking refuge outside Ukraine. While Zelenskyy claims victory, he has to go begging for more money from Western-allied countries after over 500,000 people have been killed or injured, this is not including the millions in Ukraine who face severe hardship, especially during winter, due to the damage to essential services like heating, electricity, and water supply. Zelenskyy has also lowered the army draft age from 27 to 25, increased the penalties for those who refuse to join the war, and banned elections and persecuted opposition groups including the media.

Economic impact of war in Ukraine

Ukraine’s gross domestic product (GDP) has shrunk by 25% since 2022 and now suffers a budget deficit of 23% of GDP (excluding grants). The Ukrainian Hryvnia has depreciated by 21% against the US dollar. Ukraine’s debt to GDP increased from 49% in 2021 to 85% today. Approximately 40% of Ukraine’s electricity-generating capacity destroyed since the war began. Russia currently has taken control of about 41,000 square miles (17.5%) of Ukraine, including territory occupied before 2022. These statistics highlight the extensive and ongoing suffering of the people created by the conflict with long term painful impact for both Ukraine and the broader international community.

Is the Philippines becoming an outcast in ASEAN?

Marcos’s speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue drew mixed reactions from political and policy experts because of the conflict in his statements about Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) centrality and the balancing act member states are subject to between the US and China. Ironically, not a single ASEAN member has come out in support of Marcos’s policies in the South China Sea with regard to the disputed areas and the pivot to the US of the Philippines which has resulted in the trilateral alliance between the US, Japan and the Philippines. On the contrary, Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim have warned of the dangers that the track the Philippines has undertaken under Marcos administration.

Unlike his predecessors, Marcos has given unfettered access for the US military to build bases around the Philippines, including in Cagayan province, facing Taiwan which China has repeatedly said is a red-line.

In contrast, ASEAN has continued bilateral discussions and expanded cooperation with China.

The Philippines has again adopted a policy of hostility against China similar to the policy of the Aquino administration, which resulted in the loss of Scarborough Shoal during the stand-off with China in 2012. Ironically, the loss of Scarborough was due to the US betrayal of the Philippines because Albert Del Rosario and Jose Cuisia “trusted” the US, and allowed the US to negotiate with China without the Philippines at the table.

The Ongoing South China Sea dispute between the Philippines and China’s significant economic implications

China is the Philippines’ top trading partner, with trade valued at $87.7 billion in 2022. However, in the first nine months of 2023, trade fell by 16% to $54.1 billion. Our trade officials attribute this to an overall slowdown in regional trade, but it cannot be discounted that, if bullets start flying, business will be significantly affected.

The decrease in Chinese tourist arrivals to the Philippines is felt more significantly by the local and provincial economies that depend highly on foreign spending.

China also quickly became the second largest source of foreign tourists to the Philippines reaching almost 1.7 million in 2019. Chinese tourists are known as the top buyers of luxury goods and accommodations worldwide, and that’s why many countries in the world are extending additional efforts to attract more Chinese tourist.

But Chinese tourists visiting the Philippines dropped to 263,000 in 2023, according to the Department of Tourism.

While the decrease may be partly due to China’s economic slowdown in the aftermath of the pandemic, there are also reports that the Philippines has made it harder for Chinese nationals to obtain visas during the Marcos administration, prompting Chinese tourists to go to other ASEAN countries, with less restrictive visa requirements. After all, any thinking person would ask: Why would you spend your money on a country that keeps provoking you?

While some of our politicians warn of a looming Chinese invasion, South Korea and Japan are putting more Chinese signs in their shops and even hiring Mandarin-speaking staff to prepare their countries for the expected resurgence of Chinese tourists. Chinese visitors to South Korea and Japan totaled about 2 million and 2.5 million Chinese tourists respectively. In 2023, Thailand attracted 3.5 million Chinese tourists, Vietnam had 1.75 million, and Singapore had 1.4 million. What is the Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Tourism doing about this?

Despite the numerous foreign trips Marcos had undertaken since he assumed office, foreign direct investment is still not even close to the levels attracted by other ASEAN countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. Despite the closer relationship with the US, tech giants Google and Microsoft opted to put their money in Malaysia over the Philippines. Philippine ambassador to the US Babe Romualdez boasted of billions in economic investments from the US. To this day, these are no where to be seen. Are we being fooled again?

The West is abandoning Ukraine after using it as a pawn against Russia

With hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians dead and his country turned into a wasteland, Zelenskyy has to go around the world begging for support, a clear sign of dwindling US backing. Zelenskyy invited Marcos to the upcoming Peace Summit in Switzerland, which was accepted. The peace summit has been criticized by many experts for not inviting Vladimir Putin considering he is the president of Russia. Did anyone ask how can it be called a peace summit when the other party in the war is not invited?

Ironically, after Zelenskyy’s invitation was accepted by Marcos, the White House announced that President Biden will not attend the summit and that Vice President Kamala Harris would attend instead.

Will Uncle Sam treat the Philippines better if it sacrifices 500,000 Filipinos in a conflict with China similar to what the US did with Ukraine in the war with Russia?

20 Replies to “Is the Philippines the Looming Ukraine of Asia?”

  1. The Ukrainian War is all Russia’s fault. They illegally annexed Crimea since 2014 and this was never about NATO.

    Whatever permission the Ph gov’t gives to the US military, China has no right to interfere. Even if the US deploys ballistic missiles in Philippines with the permission of the Ph gov’t, then China has no right to interfere at all because the Ph gov’t has the discretion to allow the US military to set up edca sites and even ballistic missiles in their country. It’s as simple as that and China has no business telling Philippines not to allow the US to do that.

    1. It’s easy to blame Russia for reacting this way, when this was actually started by the US of A decades ago when they reneged on their promise to abolish NATO, courtesy of George W. Bush Sr. How would the Americans feel if Russia or China built military structures near their borders?

      1. First, there was no promise to abolish NATO.

        Another thing to consider is there NATO made no clear promise not to expand. Russia has no right to stop Ukraine from attempting to join NATO. Ukraine has every right to apply for NATO membership and whether they do or not is not Russia’s business. You can’t blame NATO for being bigger than before, they accept members based on membership application and countries like Poland has good reason to be a NATO member considering what Russia did to them.

        Oh, Russia reneged on their promise not to attack Ukraine if they disarm all their nuclear arsenal which they did.

        For the record, this war was never about NATO, it’s just a lie Putin and his cohorts say. Russia attacked Georgia last 2008 despite that country having no strong ties with NATO. Do you know that Russia illegally annexed Crimea?

        It wouldn’t be a problem for the US if Russia or China does that because they have the best military technology in the world which can easily detect military aircraft and missiles once they launch.

        As for China, they are just bullying Philippines.

        This Russian-Ukrainian War is all Russia’s fault. The West has no fault for Russia’s atrocities.

        1. It’s wrong to say that the West will just abandon Ukraine because it goes against the West’s interests to just let Ukraine fall. Appeasement will not work. If they abandon Ukraine without help, it will send a message to the world that:
          1. Countries which are not NATO member and have no mutual defense treaties with a NATO member can be attacked and invaded.
          2. It will show that the West is spineless and never learned from WW2. They wouldn’t want other countries to fall into Russian and Chinese control.

          Oh, Russia isn’t winning either because their goal is to conquer Ukraine and capture Kyiv, yet they’re far from achieving it.

        2. Oh yes there was. Gorbachev’s biggest mistake was he trusted you deceitful Americans with a gentleman’s agreement. He should’ve put it in writing and asked them to sign it.

        3. Oh yes there was. Gorbachev’s biggest mistake was he trusted you deceitful Americans with a gentleman’s agreement. He should’ve put it in writing and asked them to sign it.

          As for NATO, let me quote Strobe Talbott, former US Deputy Secretary of State: “Many Russians see NATO as a vestige of The Cold War. They point out that they have disbanded the Warsaw Pact and asked why the West, can’t do the same.”

          Even your very own diplomats like George Kennan and William J Burns have made official statements that basically said that further NATO expansionism in Europe is bad news. Diplomats, former military US Generals and scholars have also pleaded with Bill Clinton to stop NATO from expanding, but I think he was too busy with Monica Lewinsky to even bother with that.

          As for Crimea, don’t make me laugh lol. You can’t take the moral high ground here since Americans have had a hand in many wars and insurrections in and around the world. Yes, it doesn’t make what Russia did in Crimea right, but I think the “great” work you did in Libya, Mexico, Afghanistan, Syria, Serbia, Iraq, Vietnam and many others should refrain you from acting like you are the heroes in this narrative. Anyway, Crimea was a part of Russia originally, and majority of Ukrainians who live there favor being part of Russia so I think their opinions matter more than yours.

          As for Russia, their economy is soaring and booming despite the sanctions from the West, so it’s fair to say that Russia is in a petty good place in this proxy war. Can’t say the same for yours and Ukraine’s lol.

          Russia has a right to defend themselves from their perceived threats to their national security and their sovereignity, and no amount of mainstream media brainwashing can change that.

        4. Disbanding NATO is a bad move, so why should they?

          About Crimea, I don’t know where you got the part which majority of Ukrainians want to be part of Russia. I’ve only heard that majority of people in Crimea want that, but that doesn’t make it right for Russia to annex a Ukrainian territory. With your argument that Crimea was originally part of Russia, then half of the world belonged to UK and Philippines belonged to Spain. Also, Ukrainians who want to be part of Russia should just migrate.

          Russia’s economy is mostly about oil. Putin was desperate that he had to nationalize leased airline jets.

          You say that Russia has a right to defend themselves from perceived threats while blaming the West for their attack on Ukraine. That’s double standards. Ukraine also has the right to defend themselves from perceived threats even if they have to join NATO. Even if Ukraine wants to join NATO, Russia has zero right to meddle and order them not to.

          Even the Wagner group’s late former CEO went against Putin and said that he’s lying before he was killed.

    2. Haha double standards and hypocrisy is a Yankee’s signature. A lot of people around the world are waking up to this fact. Rules for thee, not for me, right? Whenever and wherever America gets involved all things go to hell. Just like in Ukraine where it was widely reported that CIA saboteurs were working behind the scenes to create chaos and push them into a proxy war. Hmm it does sound like what they are doing to China now with the Philippines, doesn’t it? Don’t get me started on how a lot of Crimeans think that CIA had a hand in removing President Viktor Yanukovich. I talked to a lot of them and they definitely think that Ukraine was much better off when he was in charge. But you don’t need an expert to tell you that. Ukraine is a mess now obviously. Billions of American taxpayer dollars have been poured by the US but up to now they are losing territory as we speak.

      Also, as proof that majority prefer Russia over Ukraine, Crimea had two referendums in 1991 and 1994 for autonomy and semiautonomy, respectively. Both referendums were landslide victories in favour of distancing themselves from Ukraine. Lol.

      Ukraine definitely has the right to defend themselves, but they have no else to blame but themselves as well for allowing NATO to lead them by a string towards provoking a war with Russia. And that is something a lot of Filipinos are waking up to now with the situation with China.

      1. And to add insult to injury, they blocked Ukraine’s membership to NATO. You can’t make this ish up and is comedy gold lol. But who wants a sinking ship like Ukraine now? Definitely Not NATO.

      2. Viktor signing a draconian anti-protest law is a sure way to anger people. What would the CIA gain by overthrowing him? The Ukrainian parliament issued an arrest warrant against him. Crimea didn’t declare independence. Autonomy is different from independence. You’re wrong about Ukraine have nobody to blame but themselves because Russia is the clear aggressor and oppressor. This was never about NATO. If it was, then why did Russia attack Georgia? It’s obvious that Russia just wants to annex Ukraine, most likely an attempt to restore the USSR. Their invasion of Ukraine is unprovoked. Even Switzerland imposed sanctions against Russia. Switzerland is strictly a neutral country yet they still did it. Whatever Ukraine allows NATO to do in Ukraine is none of Russia’s business and concern.

        While I think that NATO should’ve made Ukraine a member before the war, they cannot do that now because NATO will not accept a country which is at war against another country. Russia’s aggression even made Finland and Sweden apply for NATO membership with the former being accepted as a new member. Oh, letting Ukraine fall is not good for NATO, so they have no reason to abandon Ukraine. Russia is still unable to capture Kyiv, so they’re losing. You know that there are also Russians who are defecting and standing against Putin. The former Wagner Group CEO Prigozhin was murdered after their attempted coup, but he said that Moscow was lying to the public about the justifications for invasion of Ukraine before his death. If Russia is the righteous side here, then there’s no need to arrest Russian protesters.

  2. From what I understand, Russia is acting and has taken the offensive in fighting for its independence, which is threatened by the placing of western actors’ weapons near Russia’s borders. Seen in that light, the Philippines is on a similar predicament to Russia.

    The ASEAN nations that are succumbing to China’s influence out of fear can be compared to the role of the Ukraine. They may be bending to China for economic and other reasons, but it will ultimately be an exchange for something beyond pieces of land and share of resources.

  3. It seems somebody wants to isolate Russia because its leadership is one among a few who are attempting to change the economic order. Russia’s alliance with China in that respect is inevitable and a matter of survival. I think that’s more than a reasonable move by Russia, since the current domination is taking us towards cultural and moral decay.

  4. What would the CIA and the USA gain from removing him and basically controlling Ukraine? Very good question!!! Let Mr. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina senator, warmonger extraordinaire, answer your question, and I quote this from his recent interview:

    “They’re sitting on $10-12 trillion of critical minerals in Ukraine. They could be the richest country in all of Europe. We don’t want to give that money and assets to Putin to share with China,” he told Brennan on Sunday. “If we help Ukraine now, they could become the best business partner we ever dreamed of. They’re sitting on a goal mine. To give Putin $10-12 trillion that he will share with China is ridiculous.”

    Oh, but-but-but, I thought the good guys in NATO were helping Zelensky and the poor people of Ukraine from the big, bad man in Moscow out of the sweet goodness of your hearts!? The answer of Mr. Graham tells anyone who has a modicum of logic and sensibility to conclude that this war was never about saving humanity or Ukrainian lives, it is all about war profiteering and lining the pockets of the military industrial complex.

    Just like what you did in Afghanistan stealing their minerals, the oil in Iraq and Libya, and the minerals from the Philippines with the Tydings-Mcduffie act. Lol I’ve had enough talking to you, Mr. American shrill. By the way, shouldn’t you be worried about the weapons being supplied by Putin to your numerous enemies? Goodbye and good luck, you’re going to need it.

    1. You’re just moving the goal post. The issue is Russian-Ukrainian war and if Philippines will be the same. Russia wants to annex Ukraine for resources. Putin is a former KGB spy, so he’s also a great liar. This is never about Ukraine wanting to join NATO, Putin just used it as an excuse which is of course a lie. Again, Russia attacked Georgia last 2008 despite having nothing to do with joining NATO. Also, did you know that Russia also had plans to join NATO but didn’t want to wait in line like other applicant countries?

      1. Russia is rich enough on its own. Remember they provided virtually all of Europe with oil before this war started. Also, didn’t you freeze 300 billion dollars worth of Russian assets? So who’s doing the stealing of assets and resources here?

        The war in Ukraine started not because of Putin wanting to steal minerals for Russia, which they have a lot of, but because of a question of security and a threat to their sovereignity just like I said from the very start when NATO kept provoking Russia even after a gentleman’s agreement, and they kept building military bases and weapons near their border.

        While the US is presenting itself as the good guy yet again in this war, a lot of people have awakened to their true intent, which is to basically steal and plunder. By the way, Marine Le Pen, a right-wing presidential candidate in France who wants to leave NATO and the EU and also wants peace with Russia, is winning there at the moment so I’m clearly not alone in feeling and thinking this way.

        We didn’t need the shameless admission of the war monger Senator Graham to tell us that this war was never about helping Ukrainians, yet again it’s about the US and its NATO lapdogs doing what they do best – steal.

        1. USA is also rich on its own. Russia has oil and weapons which are less advanced than US weapons. US exports many stuffs like weapons, aircraft, Microsoft, phones, etc. Freezing the assets of Russia is justified because they’re using those money to fund their illegal invasion of Ukraine, it’s like how gov’t freezes assets and money of criminals. In this case, Russia is the criminal for attacking Ukraine 100% unprovoked. I would never trust Putin for being a former spy and for curtailing right to protest, not to mention the ICC issued a warrant of arrest against Putin even though the USA is not even a member of the ICC. Russia is winning? They’re still not because they’re not close to capturing Kyiv. If Putin is in the righteous side, then why does his gov’t arrest the Russians who protest against the war? A proof that this is Russia’s fault is even the strictly neutral Switzerland imposed sanctions against Russia.

  5. No matter what you say at the end of the day the US is in Ukraine because it’s all about the minerals and natural sources of Ukraine. Your very own senators are not hiding their real intention anymore, why not admit it? Lol. You’re not there for democracy, not for humanitarian reasons, not for any charitable purposes. And no amount of excuses, and gaslighting will change that.

    As for the Philippines? Let me put it in two words: Benham Rise. Also rich in oil and other minerals that the US needs.

  6. The author is ill informed to say that Zelensky drag his country to war. He never equated the pride in Putin’s in its desire to bring back USSR’s glory before the fall of the Berlin wall. Putin have murdered innocent journalist and opposition leaders while Zelensky have no blood in his hands. The current awakening of the US as China has quipped in US’ Science and Chips act will bring China’s expansion to a halt.
    During the cold war, pres Reagan was deridingly tagged by Moscow as a Hollywood cowboy bec he (and Zelensky)was once an actor. The Filipinos are quick to parrot Zelensky as a comedian. The iron curtain regrettably accepted their mistake when Reagan became their “worst nightmare”. Reagan initiated the STAR Wars or strategic defense initiative and brought the USSR to negotiate. The same is with Zelensky where Putin scornfully expressed that Kiev under the present leadership would fall in two weeks. But it dragged him and Russia for three years with no clear victory.

    1. “The Filipinos are quick to parrot Zelensky as a comedian.”

      This shows double standards in Filipino society. They make fun of the Ukrainians for electing a comedian for president while these same people elect for college dropouts and candidates who have pending cases or ex-cons, not to mention they elected for a president largely based on his last name. Many Filipinos don’t realize that Zelensky is also a lawyer, he just didn’t use his law license to practice his profession as a lawyer because his career quickly headed into a different direction.

      “Putin scornfully expressed that Kiev under the present leadership would fall in two weeks. But it dragged him and Russia for three years with no clear victory.”

      If I’m not mistaken, Putin promised that he will capture Kyiv in 3 days which obviously failed. While Russia is proud to capture handful of old M1 Abrams, many tanks of the Russian military got destroyed in the war.

    2. The Filipinos who keep parroting Putin’s propaganda on Zelensky have already outed themselves on who pays their bills.

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