Marcos bares clear-cut foreign policy in SMNI debate

19 February 2022

PRESIDENTIAL candidate Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. practically laid down his foreign policy directions, particularly on the contentious West Philippine Sea, during the SMNI presidential debate held recently at the Okada Manila Resort Hotel in Parañaque City.

Although a lot of issues were discussed during the four-hour debate, the centerpiece of the discussion focused mostly on foreign policy after UP Prof. Clarita Carlos opened up with her question on the candidates’ position on the QUAD -- a strategic security dialogue between the United States, India, Japan, and Australia -- which was widely viewed as a response to increased Chinese economic and military power.

“I think any of these agreements we should, of course, encourage as long as it is very clear to us. What is the advantage for the Philippines?” he stated.

“What the professor just mentioned, she spoke about the great powers trying to carve out spheres of influence, I reject that model. I believe it no longer applies in the geopolitics of the modern world. The old cold war thinking, we have to fly our own way,” Marcos continued.

He qualified that he is open to any discussion with foreign powers, but “it would really depend on what is inside those agreements, say what the Philippines will be doing and those other partners of ours will be doing for the Philippines.”

“We should always think in terms of the fine line that the Philippines has to tread in all our foreign policy decisions,” Marcos added.

Asked if he rejects the concept of spheres of influence, which could mean that he will scuttle the Mutual Defense Treaty when he becomes president, Marcos replied, “Our relationship with the US is not something that we can be cavalier about.”

“It is a very important one. It has stood us in good stead for over a hundred years, and that will never disappear from the Philippine psyche, the idea and the memory of what the United States did for us and fought with us in the last war,” he added.

Marcos emphasized that although he recognized that the country is in a “hot spot” in geopolitics, “it will not cede any one square inch to any country, particularly China, but will continue to engage and work on our national interest.”

Asked what he would do if China tries to “encroach the country with its own sphere of influence,” Marcos said the correct approach would “seem to be engagement.”

“No matter what the superpowers are trying to do, we have to work within the interest of the Philippines. We cannot allow ourselves to be part of the foreign policy of other countries. We have to have our own foreign policy,” he emphasized.

Not seeking compromise, Marcos said he will seek the help of the ASEAN and UN in dealing with the West Philippine Sea and would want a multilateral approach when talking to China.

Quizzed on what he will do with the continuous harassment of fishing vessels by competing claimants in the disputed territories, he said it was imperative that the next leader would prioritize that the fishermen go back to their fishing grounds.

“Siguro naman maipapaliwanag natin sa Tsina na ang mga bangka ay hindi naman military threat sa kanila, bakit sila maglalagay ng warship doon? Ngunit kailangan natin rumesponde. Pag naulit muli magpadala naman tayo ng Navy o kahit Coast Guard para may military presence … presence of the State sa lugar na yun,” Marcos said.

He added that the country should go to ASEAN, which has a code of conduct, or the UN and send a delegation to China and discuss how the problem could be threshed out.

When pressed further, Marcos said that the reason why he wants a military presence in the disputed territories “is to show to China that we are defending what we consider our territorial waters and that is not to fire upon the Chinese vessels.”

“What we want them to know is to make them aware that we know what they are doing and we don’t agree with what they are doing, and we carry on with our diplomatic channels, other channels, to fix the problem so it won’t happen again,” he added.

In the end, Marcos said the discussion should not stop there because the immediate concern is for the fishermen to be able to go back to where they have been fishing for over a hundred years.

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FILIPINO VERSION

MALINAW NA FOREIGN POLICY INILATAG NI MARCOS SA SMNI DEBATE

MALINAW na nailatag ni presidential candidate Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. ang direksiyon ng kanyang foreign policy, partikular na ang masalimuot na usapin patungkol sa West Philippine Sea (WPS) sa nakalipas na SMNI 2022 Presidential Debate na ginanap sa Okada Manila Resort Hotel sa Parañaque City.

Bagaman maraming isyu ang napag-usapan sa debateng tumagal nang halos apat na oras, isa sa tumatak sa manonood ang patakang pang-ibayong dagat na tinanong ni UP Prof. Clarita Carlos lalo na ang posisyon nito sa Quad o Quadrilateral Security Dialogue sa pagitan ng mga bansang Amerika, India, Japan at Australia hinggil sa lumalakas na economic at military power ng bansang China.

“I think any of these agreements we should, of course, encourage as long as it is very clear to us. What is the advantage for the Philippines?” ani Marcos.

“What the professor just mentioned, she spoke about the great powers trying to carve out spheres of influence, I reject that model. I believe it no longer applies in the geopolitics of the modern world. The old cold war thinking, we have to fly our own way,” dagdag pa ng running-mate ni Inday Sara Duterte.

Binigyang-diin ni Marcos na bukas siya sa anumang uri ng dayalogo hinggil sa usapin ng ‘foreign powers,’ ngunit:  “it would really depend on what is inside those agreements, say what the Philippines will be doing and those other partners of ours will be doing for the Philippines.”

“We should always think in terms of the fine line that the Philippines has to tread in all our foreign policy decisions,” wika pa ni Marcos.

Nang tanungin kung ibabasura ba nito ang Mutual Defense Treaty sakaling maging presidente ng bansa, kaagad nitong sinabi na mahalaga ang pakikipagrelasyon sa Amerika at sa iba pang bansa.

“It has stood us in good stead for over a hundred years, and that will never disappear from the Philippine psyche, the idea and the memory of what the United States did for us and fought with us in the last war,” sabi pa niya.

Batid aniya ni Marcos na maaaring nasa ‘hot spot’ ang Pilipinas hinggil sa usapin ng ‘geopolitics.’  “It will not cede any one square inch to any country, particularly China, but will continue to engage and work on our national interest.”

Sakali namang mangialam ang Tsina sa anumang kalakaran ng bansa, tamang pakikipag-usap at dayalogo aniya ang magiging sagot dito.

“No matter what the superpowers are trying to do, we have to work within the interest of the Philippines. We cannot allow ourselves to be part of the foreign policy of other countries. We have to have our own foreign policy,” anang Marcos.

Hindi rin dapat magpadaig sa anumang kompromiso, ngunit tinitiyak din ni Marcos na lalapit at hihingi siya ng tulong sa ASEAN at UN dahil multilateral approach ang nakikita niyang isang paraan sa pakikipag-usap sa China.

Nang humantong ang diskusyon sa harassment na dinaranas ng mga kababayang mangingisda na pumapalaot sa WPS mula sa mga Chinese military vessels, sinabi ni Marcos na napakahalagang maipaglaban ito at maibalik ang karapatan ng lahat na makapangisda sa mga karagatang nasa teritoryo ng bansa.

“Siguro naman maipapaliwanag natin sa Tsina na ang mga bangka ay hindi naman military threat sa kanila, bakit sila maglalagay ng warship doon? Ngunit kailangan natin rumesponde. Pag naulit muli magpadala naman tayo ng Navy o kahit Coast Guard para may military presence … presence of the State sa lugar na ‘yun,” sabi pa ni Marcos. 

Ipinaliwanag nito ang importansiya ng pakikipag-ugnayan sa ASEAN na may ‘code of conduct,’ gayundin sa UN o kaya ay ang kahalagahan ng pagpapadala ng delegasyon sa Tsina upang maayos ang anumang usapin o problema.

Aniya, ang pagpapadala ng Philippine Navy sa WPS ay hindi rin nangangahulugan na nakikipag-giyera na ang Pilipinas.

“What we want them to know is to make them aware that we know what they are doing and we don’t agree with what they are doing, and we carry on with our diplomatic channels, other channels, to fix the problem so it won’t happen again,” sabi pa nito.

Aniya, anuman ang mangyari, dapat ay makapangisda ang mga Pilipino sa WPS dahil daang taon na itong ginagawa ng mga namamalakayang Pinoy.

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