The recent overwhelming election of Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. as president of the Philippines presents a golden opportunity for the United States to rekindle its old and strong relationship with the Philippines as a counterweight to Communist China.
Known by his nickname, "Bongbong," Marcos is the son of the late Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. and the former first lady and member of the Philippines House of Representatives, Imelda Marcos.
The significance of Marcos’ victory cannot be overstated.
Following the EDSA Revolution (The People Power Revolution), the Marcos family went into exile in 1986.
The senior Marcos died in Hawaii in 1989, with his remains not allowed to be returned to the Philippines until 1993.
Imelda and her children were allowed to return to the Philippines in 1991.
It didn’t take long, though, for the political comeback of the Marcos family to begin. Bongbong was elected to the Philippines House of Representatives in 1992, and his mother was elected to Congress from Leyte in 1995. Bongbong would then go on to be elected governor of Ilocos Norte in 1998, and to the Senate in 2010.
Receiving 59% of the vote in a multi-candidate election that included colorful characters (such as boxing great Manny "PacMan" Pacquiao) Marcos’ landslide victory was historic.
It's the first time in decades that a Philippine presidential candidate has been able to secure an absolute majority of the electorate. His victory also represents one of the greatest political comebacks since Richard Nixon’s election to the U.S. presidency in 1968, following his defeats in 1960 for president, and in 1962 for the California governorship respectively.
Marcos’ campaigned on bringing back jobs, beating inflation, and unifying the nation.
It’s a message that resonated with the Filipino people.
The Philippines has been a long and valued U.S. ally.
However, in recent years that relationship has been strained, as Communist China has sought to exert more influence as a result of mixed messages concerning U.S.-Philippine relations during the administration of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte.
Make no mistake, Communist China’s increasing belligerence, whether threatening Taiwan, its cyber warfare activities, intellectual property theft, and thumbing its nose at The Hague on keeping the South China Sea open to the free flow of trade and commerce, poses the greatest threat to the free world. And let's not forget, the genocide against the Uyghurs and its failure to come clean to the global community on the origins of COVID-19.
Yes, the Philippines has been one of America’s best and most strategic allies, particularly in Southeast Asia. It’s the second largest English-speaking nation globally (among countries with English as an official language), with a population of over 100 million, and greater than 80% of the population are professed Christians.
It's a constitutional republic whose president is elected every six years.
Additionally, the Philippine government has a bicameral congress with a house and senate.
Many Filipinos have relatives in the U.S.
In fact, the Philippines is one of the top countries of origin for immigrants, with approximately 2 million in the United States.
The U.S. has consistently been able to count on the Philippines and, in fact, both countries have a mutual defense treaty dating back to 1951.
Marcos will be sworn in on June 30 at a time when Communist China is "on the move" challenging the free world at every turn. More than ever, it's important for the United States to have a proactive strategy of working even closer with old allies, while building new relationships with former foes in Southeast Asia.
I've known members of the Marcos family for many years and have watched Bongbong’s political accension since the late 1990s. Quite frankly, I am not surprised with his election or his margin of victory. I have seen firsthand how they connect with working people and the Philippines’ own "silent majority."
Historically, the Marcos family have been fervent anti-Communists and has looked to America as a strategic ally. In fact, I remember Imelda Marcos once telling me that her appreciation of the U.S. goes back to when, at the age of 15, she met General Douglas MacArthur after he had "returned" to the Philippines.
The start of Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr.’s presidency presents a tremendous opportunity for the U.S. to wipe the slate clean of any past differences and rekindle and build upon the historic relationship between two great allies.
Rest assured, Beijing will do all it can to thwart such efforts. It knows that the real victors of a renewed and reinvigorated U.S.-Philippines alliance will not just be the American and Filipino people, but the entire free world.
Van Hipp is Chairman of American Defense International, Inc. He is the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army and author of "The New Terrorism: How to Fight It and Defeat It." He is the 2018 recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II September 11 Garden Leadership Award for National Security. Read Van Hipp's Reports — More Here.
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