In Puppetry US-Marcos Jr Shaping Up Worse than US-Duterte

in Countercurrent

To deceive the usually patriotic Filipinos that he is not that repugnantly a US puppet, President Marcos Jr mouths “friends to all, enemy to none” as his supposed guiding foreign policy. But, like the previous US-Duterte (who followed the track of mouthing tirades against US while opening up the country wider for continued US intervention), Marcos Jr’s bluster is also belied by his action.

As soon as his incredibly and quickly tallied electronic votes made him the new Philippine president in 2022, Marcos Jr met with US President Joe Biden in September 2022. Soon after, the US and Philippine military leaders continued holding “bilateral” meetings. Their emerging deals show that not only were they taking off from where US puppet Duterte left off, but also they were already expanding and deepening their ties. US military and government officials gleefully said they look forward to more long-term plans to expand their use of the country.

In practice, Marcos Jr’s declared policy of “friends to everyone, enemy to none,” is military and economic subservience to both the US and China, which makes the country a target for all, the Communist Party of the Philippines said in a statement November 2022.

The CPP warned that Marcos Jr is pushing the Philippines into the accelerating vortex of inter-imperialist armed conflict.

“On the one hand, Marcos is displaying utter spinelessness in turning a blind eye to China’s continuing construction and expansion of military bases in the West Philippine Sea in exchange for promised loans for infrastructure projects and Chinese investments in destructive reclamation and mining operations. On the other hand, he continues to allow the US to construct more military bases in the country’s territory and tighten its control of the Philippine armed forces, in exchange for more bombs and bullets and investments in the expansion of mining and plantations.”

Un-“Mutual” Defense Treaty

The Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America, signed 72 years ago (in 1951), serves as the core legal excuse of imperialist US in exerting neo-colonial control over the Philippines. Through the years, it has gained and lost military basing in the country with the termination of the Military Bases Agreement in 1991, thanks to people’s protest actions. But the US continually sought to maintain its military presence and dominance here through other unequal “agreements” that “enhanced” the MDT.

These include in 1998 the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and in 2014 the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). The VFA provides the legal basis and status protections for U.S. military and defense civilian personnel in the Philippines on official business. EDCA allows U.S. forces to use military camps in the Philippines, for military exercises, joint and combined military training activities, and to make themselves look good, for example, by claiming they are supposedly into humanitarian assistance and disaster relief activities. The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement was renewed in 2017 and is the legal mechanism to access locally sourced resources.

Together these “agreements” bestow US the license to, as they say, provide “critical U.S. military support,” presence, and interoperability. Indeed, they give that to their puppet administration and troops to shore up the repressive, exploitative system. In practice, it puts the imperialist US in position to intervene not only in the Philippines but in the Asia-Pacific (what they call as Indo-Pacific) region.

What’s up with all these “agreements” that many describe as mere executive deals between presidents?

With the lives of the Filipino people and revolutionaries on the line, there is much to watch out for under the US-Marcos 2 regime. In just a few months of Marcos Jr as president, he had already met twice with the US president, parroted all US calls in back-to-back regional summits held before yearend, and is scheduled in 2023 to have more “friendly” security meetings in the US.

Looming over Filipinos’ heads now are threats that the military deals tying the country to US imperialist dictates would even be further enhanced.

  • One, the MDT is up for review. “More concrete” updates on MDT “evolution” are hoped for by Marcos Jr in early 2023. Marcos Jr said MDT was “continuously under negotiations and under evolution.” This echoes the US imperialist drive to increase its power projection and control in the Indo-Pacific, augmenting and enhancing whatever “alliances” and “partnerships” it already has like in the Philippines. It includes plans to move massive naval, air and missile assets to the region.
  • Two, the VFA has been expanded rather than retracted under the criminal regime of Rodrigo Duterte, and Marcos Jr’s pronouncements even more clearly approved and seemed all for expanding it. As of this writing, local reactionary troops are preparing for more and bigger joint military exercises with US and other US partner forces. (Salaknib, Balikatan = 300 military exercises annually)
  • Three, EDCA is set to expire in April 2024, but Filipino and US leaders and military officials are talking as if there is no such thing in the horizon. Instead, early into Marcos Jr’s term, US and Philippine military officials declared that US forces would get 10 bases in total. From five locations currently undergoing upgrading and reconstruction to the tune of $66m, five more locations are to be added. At present, American bases in the country under the EDCA are located in Antonio Bautista Air Base (Palawan), Basa Air Base (Pampanga), Fort Magsaysay (Nueva Ecija), Lumbia Airport (Cagayan de Oro) and Benito Ebuen Air Base (Mactan, Cebu).

Worse, US-Marcos Jr is cooking up a deal for US exports of nuclear equipment and materiel to the Philippines.

A few months before Duterte exited Malacañang, the Philipines and US signed a memorandum of understanding seeking to “enhance” nuclear cooperation between the two countries. Marcos Jr seems bent on continuing it, starting talks with the US on a civil nuclear cooperation agreement that will provide a “legal basis” for US exports of nuclear equipment and material to the Philippines.

As the CPP described Marcos Jr in unwelcoming Harris last September 2022, “Like Duterte before him, Marcos completely lacks any sense of national dignity and is willing to allow the US and China to turn the Philippines into their military outpost, and is only interested how much money he and his ilk can pocket from grants, loans, aid that come from either imperialist power.” ( Pinky Ang)###

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