The Philippine Sovereignty or So Over in Thee?

Nicole Rose D. Fenita

Throughout the campaign season, many political and international relations experts have articulated their sentiments on what the position of the succeeding Philippine regime, through its foreign policies, would look like if a particular presidential aspirant is chosen. In the last six years of the Duterte administration, the country’s foreign policy has drastically shifted its course and intention towards mounting a much friendlier relationship with communist countries, particularly China and Russia while depriving its associations with the traditional partners. That action has caused a repercussion, especially with the ruled arbitration on the West Philippine Sea, and generally the South China Sea dispute. With Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos seen as the closest candidate that flexibly bolsters up the so-called “Beijing-friendly foreign relations” who also happens to be a controversial candidate, the query now goes off “how the Philippines would play along the international arena?”

After being inaugurated as the country’s chief executive, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. will automatically become the nation’s lead architect in crafting foreign policies. Centering his platform on “unity,” PBBM is set to meet more complicated challenges – especially with one of the most critical issues in the country which is the disputes on the West Philippine Sea. Right after almost a month of acquiring the office, President Marcos presented his stance on the country’s foreign policy under his administration during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA). He by then emphasized the notion of “friend to all and an enemy to none.”

Before SONA, there were actually a lot of foreign dignitaries that met President Marcos Jr. to discuss issues. To name a few, these are in the areas of economic cooperation, trade, energy, environment, education, defense, and tackling environmental problems. Despite giving importance to the aforementioned, it will still boil down to the concern with territorial disputes. Pursuant to its friendly approach, he also emphasized the protection of the country’s sovereignty. Obtained from the Philippine News Agency, the president stated that: "(The country will) not preside over any process that will abandon even a square inch of the territory of the Republic of the Philippines to any foreign power.”

Yet ironically, in spite of PBBM's efforts to project and to pursue an independent foreign policy while at the same time protecting the country's territorial sovereignty, he has also expressed a friendlier attitude towards the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Given that the mentioned communist country has been moving more assertively in the area of dispute, the West Philippine Sea, one can sense a feeling of confusion and a blanket of concern overcome as to what may be the president's next move regarding the Philippines' future.

The president only recited. He did not give us a more concrete and clearer plan. So, how long do we endure? The country has yet to face a much bigger problem of the geopolitical struggle between the US and China concerning the West Philippine Sea. Seeing how Marcos Jr. has displayed its difference with Duterte’s approach by having weakened some pacts with the former Soviet Union and welcomed more of the US, leaves us wondering what strategy would this administration like to pursue.

More so, there are reports that Marcos Jr. is adopting his late father’s foreign policy approach. That is to cleverly pull a stunt making the two running superpowers of today go against themselves for the benefit of their strategic advantages. But, where do the gains of the Filipino people come from? Maybe it is too early to conclude yet. As long as the national interest of the country is being upheld, we will always feel secured, confident, and at peace. Therefore, we must brace ourselves. The game has just begun.

Published: November 13, 2022