Activist countries

EDITORIAL: Will Marcos move closer to China and risk alienating democratic countries?

Japan Racing Association

At the end of June, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. will begin a six-year term as President of the Republic of the Philippines after winning the post in a landslide victory in the May 9 election. The presumed president is the eldest son of former dictator and late president Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled the Philippines from 1965 to 1986.

Marcos has vowed to carry on the political line of current and still popular President Rodrigo Duterte, who has to step down due to term limits (and whose daughter is Marcos’ winning running mate). However, the international community will be more interested in the new Marcos administration’s security policies regarding the South China Sea, especially how it responds to China’s ongoing maritime expansion that relies on naval strength.

Russia ignored the international community’s attempts at restraint when it invaded Ukraine. The possibility of China resorting to the same kind of reckless violence to pursue its unilateral claims of sovereignty in the South China Sea cannot be ruled out.

Protect the sovereignty of the Philippines

If the Philippines continues the current administration’s strategy of prioritizing the perceived economic benefits of appeasement with China, it would be extremely dangerous.

In order to achieve a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” Japan and the United States must engage more proactively with Mr. Marcos to warn him of the dangers posed by China.

The 2016 decision in the case brought by the Philippines before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is particularly significant. The ruling, based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), said China’s claim to sovereignty over the South China Sea had no legal basis.

For the sake of our international order based on the rule of law, China cannot be allowed to do whatever it wants in this matter. And the line must be drawn here if Chinese expansionism is to be contained.

Hopefully the decision will be brought up again at this month’s Japan-US Summit as well as the Australia-India-US-Japan “Quad Summit” and that the parties involved will adapt their behavior according to the decision.

Activists march past the Electoral Commission to protest its unofficial tally showing Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is on course to win the presidency, May 10, 2022.REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

Stand up for Freedom and Democracy

In April, Japan and the Philippines held their first foreign affairs and defense security (2+2) ministerial talks, during which they agreed to strengthen their defense cooperation. Additionally, the armies of the United States and the Philippines recently concluded their largest joint exercises to date. We would like to see more of this type of collaboration at the operational level.

Marcos reimagined the brutal era of his father, who was ultimately defeated and driven into exile by the “people power” revolution in 1986, as a “golden age”. His campaign made deft use of social media to infiltrate this fiction among young voters. Since the average age of Filipinos is only around 25, many voters have no memory of the years when his father was dictator.

Many Filipinos have expressed fear that the dark days of dictatorship will return to the Philippines. But a more immediate concern for many people is whether Marcos will continue President Duterte’s tough tactics in areas like his “war on drugs” that has claimed thousands of lives and drawn criticism from the West, and s ‘it will continue to draw closer to a China. who tolerates such tactics.

Before he moves into Malacañang Palace, we’d like to see Marcos think carefully about these issues and come up with policies that address them.

If Mr. Marcos wishes to leave a legacy of his own as a president who has been a leader for the causes of freedom and democracy, he will find a welcoming and cooperative international community.

(Read the editorial in Japanese on this link.)

Author: editorial board, The Sankei Shimbun