Some anti-US groups are criticizing President Bongbong Marcos’s foreign policy, which is to get closer to the US rather than be in the embrace of China. This is, of course, a reversal of the foreign affairs drift of his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte. They are one in saying that embracing the US and angering China could bring us closer to a nuclear war. But I say, what is the alternative?
Crafting an independent foreign policy is the ideal. But in the current setup, how can one be independent when one is so weak and is being bullied by China, which is militarily stronger by comparison? Or to be blunt about it, how can one be independent when one’s territory is being seized piece by piece by a power that does not follow a rules-based global setup?
I have been opposing US imperialism for much of my life. But this time around, what China has unfurled in the West Philippine Sea is worrisome. Marcos’s predecessor tried sidling close to China but China showed little signs of slowing down on its ambition to seize a big chunk of the West Philippine Sea. Some people are correct: the only language bullies hear is force—and sadly, China is a bully.
Frankly, I like what Marcos is doing. For a time now, I have been pushing for closer ties with the US, which is our traditional ally. During the term of former president Noynoy Aquino, I pushed for the government to allow US military forces to have a temporary base in Palawan so we can guard the West Philippine Sea better. I am also for joint patrols by the Philippines and the US in the West Philippine Sea.
But China succeeded in its effort to have a pro-China president before Bongbong took over. In a way, Bongbong winning the presidency is not totally bad, after all. His administration has given the Philippines a breathing spell after years of China dictating our foreign policy.
There was a time when I idolized socialist China. But the way it is flexing its muscles in the West Philippine Sea showed me that even a supposedly socialist state can act like an imperialist. As they say, actions speak louder than words. Or is China still a socialist state? Can a government that says it has adhered to the doctrine of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism be a bully at the same time?
From now on, China will have to think twice before doing something drastic in the West Philippine Sea as it is being forced to contend with the US presence in the West Philippine Sea. As the Tagalogs would say, “Finally, nakahanap sila ng katapat...” China can no longer act like a bully in the midst of global pressure.
One time, I heard Albay Gov. Joey Salceda say that Marcos looks more yellow than former president Noynoy. I am not prepared to go that way. But I would say that Marcos seems to be a better practitioner of liberal democracy than former president Duterte. Which is actually good for us Filipinos. This is rather surprising considering the gloomy predictions of many with regard to a Marcos Jr. presidency.
March 20, 2023
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