Marcos presidency complicates U.S. efforts to counter China

Manila, the Philippines (AP) — The apparent landslide victory of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the Philippine presidential election has sparked immediate fears of further erosion of democracy in the region and could allow the United States to weaken China’s growing influence and power in the Pacific. Try to complicate.

Marcos, the son and namesake of longtime dictator Ferdinand Marcos, garnered more than 30.8 million votes in Monday’s election, more than double his closest challenger, according to unofficial counts.

If the results hold, he will take office at the end of June for a six-year term with Sara Duterte, the daughter of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, as vice president.

Duterte, who left office with 67 percent approval, has forged closer ties with China and Russia but has also at times attacked the United States.

However, he has pushed back against many of his threats to Washington, including scrapping the defense pact between the two countries, while the luster of China’s promised infrastructure investment has dimmed and many have failed to deliver.

Whether or not recent trends in relations with the United States will continue has a lot to do with how President Joe Biden’s administration responds to Marcos’ return to power. FilipinoManila-based political scientist says Andrea Chloe Wonga former researcher at the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

SEE ALSO: Marcos, Duterte elected as new Philippines president and vice president

“On the one hand, Biden has geostrategic interests Filipinoon the other hand he A balance must be struck between promoting American democratic ideals and human rights,” she said.

“if he choose to do so, he Might have to isolate the Marcos government, so it must be a delicate balancing act Filipino, and Marcos’s attitude toward the United States will largely depend on how Biden will engage with him. “

His election comes at a time when the US has been increasingly focused on the region, embarking on a strategy unveiled in February to considerably broaden US engagement by strengthening a web of security alliances and partnerships, with an emphasis on addressing China’s growing influence and ambitions.

Thousands of U.S. and Philippine troops recently wrapped up one of their largest combat exercises in years, showcasing U.S. firepower in the north the Philippines Close to the maritime border with Taiwan.

Marcos has been lacking details on foreign policy, but in interviews he said he wanted closer ties with China, including potentially setting aside a 2016 ruling by a court in The Hague that left China with almost all of its history in southern China. Claims void sea.

China refused to recognize the ruling, citing Marcos as saying “arbitration is no longer arbitration if there is only one party”.

Marcos also said he would maintain his country’s alliance with the U.S., but that relationship was held in contempt of court by a U.S. District Court in Hawaii in 2011 due to U.S. support for a government that took power after his father was ousted Complicated Order to provide asset information related to the 1995 human rights class action against Marcos Sr.

The court fined them $353.6 million, which was never paid, potentially complicating the possibility of his future visits to the United States.

America has a long history Filipinoit was an American colony for most of the first half of the last century until it gained independence in 1946.

US closes last military base Filipino In 1992, but the country’s location in the South China Sea meant it remained strategically important, and under the 1951 Collective Defense Treaty, the United States pledged that if Filipino be attacked.

While a Biden administration may prefer to work with Marcos’ arch-rival Lenny Robredo, “the U.S.-the Philippines Alliances are critical to the security and prosperity of both countries, especially in this new era of competition with China,” said Gregory B. Poling, director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“Unlike Lenny, who has a coherent platform for good governance and development at home and counters China abroad, Marcos is a policy code,” Pollin said in a research note. “He shies away from presidential debates. , avoided interviews, and remained silent on most issues.”

However, Marcos has made it clear that he wants to try again to improve relations with Beijing, Pollin said.

“But in foreign policy, Marcos will not have the leeway that Duterte has,” he said. “Filipino Try to stretch out a hand, China bites it. That’s why the Duterte administration has re-accepted the U.S. alliance and has taken a tough stance on Beijing over the past two years. “

In 1986, millions took to the streets to force Marcos Sr. to end his corrupt dictatorship and return to democracy. But the election of Duterte as president in 2016 brought a return to a strongman-type leader, which voters have now doubled-down on with Marcos Jr.

At home, Marcos (his childhood nickname “Bang Bang”) is widely expected to take over where Duterte left off, stifling press freedom and cracking down on dissent with less of the outgoing leader’s rude and brash style , while ending his ongoing attempts to recover some of the billions of dollars his father stole from the treasury.

But Julio Teehankee, a political science professor at De La Salle University in Manila, said a return to his father’s hard-line rule, which had largely been under martial law, was unlikely.

“He doesn’t have the guts or the talent, or even the ruthlessness to be a dictator, so I think we’re going to see a form of authoritarianism or Marcosism,” Tihanki said.

Pollin said the new Marcos administration does not spell the end of Philippine democracy, “although it may accelerate its decline.”

“The country’s democratic institutions have been battered by Duterte’s six-year presidency and the rise of online disinformation, as well as decades of oligarchy, corruption and poor governance,” he said.

“America is better served by engaging rather than criticizing the onslaught of democratic headwinds Filipino. “

Marcos’ domestic approach could have spillover effects to other countries in the region, where democratic freedoms are increasingly eroding in many places, Filipino seen as a positive influence, yellow said.

“This will have implications for the Philippines’ foreign policy, especially in Southeast Asia, in promoting its democratic values, freedom and human rights,” she said. “Filipino Seen as a bulwark of democracy in the region, with a strong civil society and a noisy media, our credibility will be diminished with Bombong Marcos as president. “


Reports from Bangkok rose.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC.

Source link