What changes will the new Philippine administration make to foreign policy?

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. celebrates with new Vice President Sara Duterte after taking his oath as the president of the Philippines in Manila on June 30. (Source: EZRA ACAYAN)

Jakarta, IO – On June 30, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, was sworn in as Philippines’ newly elected president. After 36 years, the Marcos family returned to the Malacañang Palace. 

Sara Duterte-Carpio, the daughter of incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte, was sworn in as the Philippines’ next vice president on June 19 in Davao City. The fact that different sessions were held at the same time might be considered as a spectacle in Philippine political history. 

Marcos’s governing basis and aptitude have been called into doubt as the sole son of previous President Marcos. At a time when the world and regional environment is fast changing and numerous uncertainties are developing, the next Philippine government’s internal and foreign policies is especially important. How Marcos can correctly comprehend his position in the triangle connection between China, the US, and ASEAN, and lead the Philippines on the path to wealth and prosperity, has become a matter of interest to all parties. 

The Philippines and the United States: Better allies than “having a dispute” 

The Philippines was a U.S. colony. Even after winning independence, it remained a “semi-colony” for a long time under the shadow of the United States. As a result, Filipinos have an unexplained love-hate connection with the US. Some influential Philippine officials attempted to break away from US rule, but were finally defeated. 

However, since the Cold War’s conclusion, Filipino attitudes toward the United States have some what shifted. The withdrawal of US soldiers from military outposts in the Philippines was fuelled by anti-American sentiment at home. However, as China and the Philippines fought for Mischief Reef, numerous Filipinos quickly regretted their decision. 

Given that China and the Philippines have no disagreements, that China quickly began negotiating a settlement with ASEAN countries, including the Philippines, and that the US has little interest in Southeast Asian matters, ties between the Philippines and the US appear to have cooled. Despite not dissolving its alliance with the US, the Philippines joined the Non-Aligned Movement at this time. 

Under Barack Obama and Benigno Aquino III, ties between the United States and the Philippines improved rapidly. This is the outcome of the Philippines’ desire to strengthen its strategic position and protect its interests in the South China Sea, as well as the United States’ need to “return to Asia” to check and balance China. The reciprocal collaboration between the US and the Philippines has not only put ASEAN and other member nations in a bind, but has also caused significant upheaval in the South China Sea. The US troops returned to the Philippine military post as part of a rotation, and the two countries’ strategic interests were inextricably linked.