Washington’s seduction (1)

To sum up the recent visit of US Vice President Kamala Harris, foreign publications indicated that the visit emphasized security issues as an effort to close the door on a period of tension under Duterte.

After a series of overseas engagements that culminated in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Bangkok, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos is receiving plaudits for bringing the Philippines back into the sphere of the community of nations.

The perspective, of course, has the complexion of the liberal democratic movement that has long pushed for the removal of leaders of democratic nations during the so-called Strongmen era.

In a TIME special, former President Rodrigo Duterte was ranged with then US President Donald Trump, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Russian President Vladimir Putin as poster boys of the era defined by “muscular and assertive” leaders.

Surprisingly, the assessments of the Marcos administration, which was much reviled overseas due to the historical baggage coming from his father’s martial law rule, were mostly favorable.

To sum up the recent visit of US Vice President Kamala Harris, foreign publications indicated that the visit emphasized security issues as an effort to close the door on a period of tension under Duterte.

“Duterte consistently undermined the US-Philippines security partnership, using inflammatory and coarse language to verbally harangue Washington in the process,” the World Politics Review stated.

The reviews on Marcos, coming mostly from a prejudiced perspective, had several unsubstantiated allegations and prejudgments against his predecessor such as Duterte’s “undermining the rule of law” contained in policies during his watch.

The reports explained that Marcos “dialed back” these alleged excesses of the former President.

The encouragement on BBM aims to pull him into the Americans’ embrace.

“Marcos has also boosted bilateral cooperation on maritime security and intelligence-sharing with the US and is considering allowing the US to rotate forces to a naval base in the Philippines,” the WPR wrote.

WPR is a think tank consulted by “policymakers, business people, and academics.”

It indicated Marcos marked a huge shift from the Duterte era, as the incumbent has raised the possibility of allowing the US to base forces in the country in the event of a conflict over Taiwan.

Further, it gave a glimpse of the American factor in the coming elections.

“Marcos has so angered Duterte that the former president, who had planned to retire, has instead reentered politics. Duterte’s party is now preparing to contest the next legislative elections as a challenger to Marcos’ party,” WPR stated.

It gave a clear forecast of whom the US will place its chips on.

“The US has moved past any lingering anger from the Duterte era and is wooing Marcos intensely, setting US-Philippines relations on their best course in a decade. The visit by Harris should be seen in this light,” it added.

The Associated Press also revealed that Biden seems to have built a surprising amount of personal “goodwill” with Marcos.

Marcos is distancing himself from the popular Duterte “to distinguish himself from his predecessor and appeal more to the international community — the Philippines desperately needs investment, and many of the Chinese projects that Duterte so eagerly courted never came to fruition.”

Unsurprisingly, Marcos being placed on a global pedestal by former Duterte critics was a signal, according to WPR, that he intended to purge the country of many of Duterte’s worst domestic excesses.

Notably, Marcos announced he would shift away from his predecessor’s heavy-handed approach to the war on drugs and emphasize instead drug education and rehabilitation.

To put things in perspective, the move towards a less abrasive drug program with the problem being considered as a health rather than a crime issue — a formula provided by Vice President Leni Robredo — was given the rein on the anti-narcotics program for a brief moment. (To be continued)

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