By Raymund Antonio | Manila Bulletin
The Philippine envoy to the United States believes that President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will be an “advantage” to the two countries’ relations as he would ensure economic recovery by reaching out to traditional allies like the US.
Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez, a relative of Marcos, said in a CNN Philippines interview that the president-elect is “westernized” since he spent “quite a bit of time” in the US.
“He knows what life is in a country like the United States, which, obviously, our democratic system is patterned after, so, he knows (what) the value of that friendship has been, including the time during his father,” he added.
Romualdez stressed that Marcos “is of a different level,” citing conversations he had with him when he briefed the president-elect on US-PH relations.
After serving under the Duterte administration, the envoy only had good words for the outgoing President, who he said “opened the door for the people in Washington DC to realize that we are indeed a sovereign country, we value our friendship, but we have to treat each other with mutual respect.”
“We really need that kind of relationship that if we are going to be allies and friends, we have to respect each other and that we should not take each other for granted, which is very important in any kind of relationship,” Romualdez said.
Despite being a pro-US ally under many administrations, the Philippines pivoted to China under the Duterte administration, with the President even once dangling the possible abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) because he felt Washington was taking advantage of the relationship.
Romualdez, who dismissed rumors that he would be the next Department of Foreign Affairs chief, sees that Marcos will trudge along the same path.
“And that being said, obviously, our relationship with other countries like China, which is a major country and our neighbor, has to continue with what President Duterte started by reaching out to them and being able to resolve the issue, not only resolve the issues that we have with them but at the same time have a strong economic ties, which I think President-elect Marcos will do,” he said.
He added that Marcos will “reach out to countries like China, India, and of course, the United States in bringing about the economic recovery of the global economy which is obviously suffering from the pandemic.“
The president-elect hasn’t been in the United States for years, owing to a contempt judgment in 1995 against him and his mother, Imelda.