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Watch to See if Apple Fell Near Tree

June 3, 2022
Photo by Pixabay on

With the results of the Philippine elections certified, and our candidate of choice, Leni, having lost and founded a non-governmental organization (NGO) to lead, instead of a nation of seven thousand islands, we will watch and see if incoming president Bongbong relapses the country into an autocracy that echoes the dictatorship his father Ferdinand Marcos presided over.

Bongbong and Sara Duterte take office this month as President and Vice President of the Philippines (Marcos won with 31.63 million votes, representing nearly 59% of the votes cast in this year’s elections. Duterte, won with 32.21 million votes.) and already there are signs of trouble. At the president-elect’s first “press conference” only a trio of journalists, from organizations that had been supportive of his run, were invited to participate.

Not invited were any reporters from Rappler, one of our favorite Philippine news sources, who are now reporting on the challenges in the Philippine Supreme Court to Marcos’ election.

Watch and see, defines what Filipinos globally, Philippine opposition politicians, governments around the world, and UN human rights watchdog groups, may well be doing for the next six years, to evaluate whether the sun is setting on the nation’s vibrant democracy.

The wait and see approach is evident from official U.S. State Department responses, links to which are here as backup to the following extensive citations from two press releases, one from U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken:

“On behalf of the United States, I congratulate President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on his election as the Philippines’ next president. We look forward to working with President-elect Marcos to strengthen the enduring alliance between the United States and the Philippines. Our special partnership is rooted in a long and deeply interwoven history, shared values and interests, and strong people-to-people ties. As friends, partners, and allies, we will continue to collaborate closely with the Philippines to promote respect for human rights and to advance a free and open, connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific region. We commend the millions of Filipino voters who cast their ballots in this election, and we look forward to the official conclusion of the electoral process for the many offices in the national elections.”

We close with a citation regarding the watch and see approach from a press briefing at the U.S. State Department, during which a reporter asked a number of excellent questions of the department’s press spokesperson. Ned Price:

REPORTER: I wanted to come to the Philippines. You said yesterday it was too early to comment, so wanted to kind of ask again specific – I guess particularly because the ASEAN Summit is happening this week, and part of the focus of that is obviously – is obviously towards China or showing your prioritization of the region in the light of your broader China policy, I guess, or Indo-Pacific policy. But specifically, do you have any concerns that the new president-elect, Marcos Jr., represents a challenge to U.S. policy in the region, specifically with his comments, I believe during the campaign, talking about the 2016 ruling on – the UNCLOS ruling that he said this is not effective, and he said he’s going to seek a bilateral agreement with China to resolve their dispute in the South China Sea. How does that square with what the U.S. wants to do with this region?

MR PRICE: Simon, this applies to the Philippines, it applies to everywhere around the world: We will judge and we will operate within the confines of our bilateral relationship based on what happens once an individual or a party is in office. And when it comes to Ferdinand Marcos Jr., you heard from the Secretary earlier today that we congratulated him, we congratulated the people of the Philippines on their successful election. We look forward to working with the president-elect to strengthen the enduring alliance between our two countries. It’s a special partnership that is rooted in a long and deeply interwoven history of shared values, shared interests, and strong people-to-people ties. We’ll continue to collaborate closely with the Philippines to promote respect for human rights and to advance a free, open, connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific.

That will be at the top of our agenda. We look forward to seeing Foreign Minister Locsin when he is here at the ASEAN Summit later this week, and I suspect that we will be able to engage with the incoming Marcos government in the near term.

REPORTER: And specifically on the 2016 ruling, is that – does the U.S. still see that as relevant to resolving the South China Sea disputes?

MR PRICE: We still stand by that ruling. We issued a statement not all that long ago underscoring that the South China Sea, as we know, contains some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, trillions of dollars in merchant shipping transit annually. We have to remain vigilant to any effort to unlawfully restrict navigational rights and freedoms in this vital waterway. It serves as a lifeline to so many economies. And we reaffirm our statement of July of last year regarding the maritime claims in the South China Sea, and we stand by that.

REPORTER: Ned, I must admit that I don’t expect a whole lot of an answer from this, but given the history here, the United States and the Philippines and the fact that the United States played such a pivotal role in the ouster of Bongbong Marcos’s father, do you have any concerns about the return of the family?

MR PRICE: Matt, as I just said to Simon, we look forward to working with the incoming government —

REPORTER: So in other words, no?

MR PRICE: We have – we know that we have an enduring, shared values and shared interests. It is at the top of our agenda, and we expect at the top – it’s at the top of the agenda of the incoming administration in Manila to work to advance this.

REPORTER: So the – so you’re prepared to, like, start on a fresh page?


REPORTER: And the history doesn’t matter?

MR PRICE: Our bilateral relationships are contoured by what happens when individuals, parties come to office.

Photo by Rifqi Ramadhan on
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