President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos’ shift in defense alliance in favor of the United States brings back the country to the pre-Duterte era. In just a short period, communication between Manila and Washington has conveyed the intent that the previous association, especially at a time when global constancy is facing the hegemony of carefree nations, is an imperative.
Antonio V. Figueroa
This new policy, though facing opposition from some sectors, is a revival, if you will, of the pre-1981 partnership between the two countries even while the country was thunderously shaken by issues of human rights during the martial rule.
This rekindling of old bonds is a huge diplomatic shift. The mending of ties coheres with the second Marcos admin’s stance the international court of justice’s (ICJ) decision over China’s misappropriation of Philippine territories should be honored, and it assures the country of the much-needed military muscle to keep its islands safe, at the least in the foreseeable future.
As a result, four significant events took place reinforce PH-US partnership.
First, Marcos’ much-ballyhooed New York meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the United Nations’ general assembly provided the setting for warming up a relationship that was severely endangered by the carelessness of the previous leadership.
Second, Biden, in a surprise move, offered the country a $100 million military grant that can use whichever way the country wants it for defense purposes. The gift is an indirect rebuke to Russia and China whose policies always point to exploiting the weaknesses of smaller nations with very limited protection to their sovereignties.
Third, the U.S., in order to further strengthen defense alliance with the Philippines, has also offered $70 million for the advance of enhanced defense cooperation agreement (EDCA) sites, which coheres with the mutual defense treaty (MDT) both countries agreed on 70 years ago. And fourth, Biden who calls the country ‘partner, ally and friend,’ has officially sent an invitation to Marcos for a state visit in the near future.
The restoration of old defense ties has created discordant and at times crazy disagreement from sectors who use the 1987 Constitution as basis, especially matters of establishing foreign military bases and the entry of nuclear armaments. While hostile voices are part of the democratic landscape, certain parameters should be wisely observed and embraced.
Parroting the argument that U.S. military presence is a magnet for conflict with neighboring countries even if it reflects the need to protect the nation’s territorial integrity. Without a powerful ally, the country, if its national security is under threat, is a sitting duck.
As a deterrent, it is high time that U.S. military bases and installations, long gone from the defense scene since their removal in 1992, be brought back, this time with the mandate to position them in threatened islands near the West Philippine Sea where China, a traitorous ‘friend,’ has built naval bases and harassed Filipino fisherfolk with impunity.
If there is anything that should awaken the public on the need to add muscle to the PH-US alliance, it is the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. While there are some downsides to a defense partnership, its advantage against external aggression may be best defined by the way South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan have gotten defense cooperation from the American juggernaut.
So much for the street parliaments and hollow opposition voices. What the country needs is a defense shield that deters extraneous threats. Without the alliance, we lose. Even the claim that we can be drawn into a conflict not of our own making is a farce because war, if its erupts, does not exempt any nation or territory in its path.