With presumptive Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in an apparent win in the Philippine Presidential elections, President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping have both personally congratulated Marcos Jr. on his landslide victory.
First to congratulate him was China’s Xi, who sent the Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines, Huang Xilian, personally to meet Marcos Jr. During this visit, Huang officially handed over Xi’s congratulatory note hailing his win as the 17th President of the Philippines.
The Chinese President was reportedly “delighted” upon hearing about Marcos Jr.’s win and extended his sincere congratulations and best wishes. The note expresses that China’s relationship with the Philippines has been “strengthened” and “elevated” throughout the recent years and has brought “benefits” to the people of both countries. He further stated that the two countries have been making contributions to regional peace and stability.
“Currently, China and the Philippines are both at a critical stage of development, posing important opportunities and broad prospects for our bilateral relations. I highly value the development of China-Philippines relations,” Xi said.
“I am ready to build a good working relationship with you to preserve our good neighborliness, work for common development and deepen our Relationship of Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation so as to bring benefits to our countries and two peoples,” he added.
Xi had enjoyed the Philippines’ support from outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, who started the shift way back in 2016 when he called Former US President Barack Obama a “son of a whore” as Obama wanted to ask Duterte about the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.
Under the strengthened China-Philippines relationship, China would invest and let the Philippines loan out funds for Duterte’s infrastructure projects widely tied to the Belt and Road Initiative. However, journalists determined that the majority of these projects have not even broken ground yet, and not much had been actually built – causing the opposition to question said projects. Duterte would also virtually give away disputed islands in the South China Sea to appease China, even when the Philippines had won an international arbitration case against China.
Later, Duterte would walk back his statements and say that he did not mean those comments to be taken personally. “I do not want to quarrel with him. He’s the most powerful president of any country on the planet,” he said, explaining that he was angry at the former members of the US state department who kept on commenting about the human rights situation in the Philippines.
Things would get better with Former President Trump, who lauded Duterte’s campaign against drugs. However, things would get sour as the US would revoke Duterte’s police chief, Senator Ronald Dela Rosa’s US visa on his bloody war on drugs, where thousands of poor people who were allegedly drug users were killed. In turn, Duterte threatened to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement, an election issue in the Philippines as there are sectors of the population that believe the agreement was a form of imperialism. He would later retract the statement.
On the other hand of the spectrum, you have President Biden personally congratulating presumptive Preisdent Marcos Jr. through a telephone call. The White House announced on May 11th that President Biden wished to continue the US-Philippine Alliance.
“President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. spoke today with President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Philippines to congratulate him on his election,” the statement said.
“President Biden underscored that he looks forward to working with the President-elect to continue strengthening the U.S.-Philippine Alliance while expanding bilateral cooperation on a wide range of issues, including the fight against COVID-19, addressing the climate crisis, promoting broad-based economic growth, and respect for human rights,” it added.
Marcos, in return, invited President Biden to his Presidential inauguration on June 30th. This comes as a very big surprise to many observers. Many were expecting Marcos Jr. to continue strengthening relations with China as the current President’s daughter, Sara Duterte, Marcos Jr.’s running mate, is also expected to win.
“I have also invited President Biden to my inaugural on June 30, which could further fortify the relationship of the two countries,” Marcos Jr. said in a statement.
The Philippines lies at a strategic point in Asia and the Indo-Pacific, where China continues its expansionist rhetoric. Just very recently, the Solomon Islands, a Chinese ally in the Pacific, signed a security deal with China that may enable them to build a military base in the region. Australia has been very vocal about these concerns but has lost to Chinese influence so far.
With Marcos Jr. winning the election, the people of the Philippines lost to hold him accountable for his father’s brutal and repressive regime that saw $10 billion stolen and thousands of people disappeared, tortured, and killed. Political scientists warn that he may abolish the commission tasked to regain their family’s ill-gotten wealth and revise history to their favor.
Just a day ago, he had appointed presumptive Vice-President Sara Duterte to head the Philippines’ Department of Education, giving them full power to revise history textbooks and ban those who put the Marcos family name in a bad light.
However, the Philippine elections are reportedly legitimate, with over 31 million Filipinos voting for Marcos Jr. despite anomalies in the election. Despite the legitimacy, educational institutions fear that the human rights violations and the undermining of the freedom of the press experienced under the Duterte administration would continue under the second Marcos administration.