Asia - Pacific

Philippines to continue pursuing independent foreign policy: President-elect

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. uses reconciliatory tone to address China, calling Beijing ‘close neighbor and good friend’ of Philippines

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 10.06.2022
Philippines to continue pursuing independent foreign policy: President-elect


Philippines President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday said his administration will “continue” pursuing an “independent” foreign policy.

“We will continue, what (outgoing) President (Rodrigo) Duterte has started, what has been described as ‘an independent foreign policy’,” Marcos told the Philippines-China Understanding awards conference in Manila.

“This is what we feel is best in the national interest,” Marcos Jr. told the ceremony during which his mother was honored.

Marcos, 64, secured a landslide victory last month in presidential elections and is set to take over the charge this month as his predecessor Duterte leaves the office after completing a six-year term.

He also said such a policy “is to be advantageous not only to our friends in China but to all our friends around the world.”

Using a reconciliatory tone to define Manila’s relations with Beijing, the president-elect said: “The difficulties, the differences we may have will be held in every way as long as we try and continue to communicate and continue to be forthright in the interest in each of our countries.”

As everyone has been trying to make its way in the post-pandemic world, "each country will not be able to thrive and survive by itself,” he added.

‘China our close, good friend’

Pointing to the worst impact left behind by the COVID-19 pandemic, Marcos said: "I truly believe that it is the partnerships and alliances that, we as a country, will make with our friends and allies and partners around the world,” that would help overcome the post-pandemic challenges.

The synergy that will come from cooperation with other countries “is what will bring us forward to a bright future," he noted.

“We can only do it, certainly in the Philippines, we can only do with our partners and our strongest partner has always been, in that regard, our close neighbor and good friend, the People’s Republic of China,” said Marcos, stressing the significance of “people-to-people” relations with China.

China and the Philippines normalized diplomatic relations in 1975.

In an interview last month, Marcos - -son of the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. who was ousted by a 1986 people’s revolt -- pointing to Beijing, had said: “There is no wiggle room there. Our sovereignty is sacred. We will not compromise it in any way.”

“The sovereignty of the Philippines is ‘sacred’ and we do not need to be told by anyone how to run our own country,” said the president-elect of the archipelago nation.

Ferdinand Marcos added that the Philippines will use the “important ruling” by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in 2016 on the South China Sea in its favor.

“We will use it to continue to assert our territorial rights. It is not a claim, it is already our territorial right,” said Marcos in an interview with a select group of journalists which was aired live on his Facebook page.

China and the Philippines share maritime borders in the hotly contested South China Sea.

They fought it out at the PCA where Manila emerged victorious as Beijing’s claims over the resource-rich sea were invalidated by The Hague-based authority.

However, outgoing President Duterte had indicated that he would “set aside” the international tribunal’s ruling in a bid to strengthen ties with Beijing.

Earlier Friday, Marcos met Gustavo Gonzalez, the UN’s top official in the Philippines.

Gonzalez later told the media that the incoming president “committed” to “high-level of accountability” about human rights violations in the archipelago nation.

Besides human rights, he said the duo discussed peace, climate crisis, and climate resilience.

“He (Marcos Jr.) mentioned also the importance of ensuring high-level of accountability in terms of human rights and we also refer to the October session of the Human Rights Council where the new administration will be ready for a successful session,” said Gonzalez.

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