‘Marcos-Duterte pa rin’

"Will we really allow the son and the daughter to fail us again?" 


Author Archie Resos in an article “The Foreign Policy of President Ferdinand Marcos: From Traditionalism to Realism” sums up most succinctly the foreign policy direction under President Ferdinand Marcos. 

“Since its attainment of independence in 1946, the Philippines has conducted its foreign policy in close alliance with the United States of America. This reflects the neocolonial status of the country whose foreign policy, according to Senator Claro M. Recto, has assumed a “mendicant” posture characterized by a patron-client relationship. 

“Among the presidents of the Republic of the Philippines, Ferdinand E. Marcos had the longest term of office – 21 years, from 1965 until his eventual downfall through the EDSA People Power I Revolution in 1986. He played a decisive role in shaping Philippine diplomatic history to assume an independent posture, veering away from traditionalism to realism. Marcos went beyond traditional diplomacy solely characterized by diplomatic dependence on the United States as he vigorously pursued Asian regionalism and diplomatic relations with Third World countries, Middle Eastern countries and Socialist nations–all in pursuit of the country’s national interest.”

Under the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte, foreign policy direction diverged from the traditional approach – i.e. overdependence on the United States. When he assumed office he promised to promote an “independent” foreign policy. However, as he distances the Philippines from its traditional ally, the United States, he is seemingly moving closer to China even as the latter is taking a more aggressive stance in the South China Sea dispute, particularly in the West Philippine Sea. 

Duterte’s pronouncements have diminished and brushed aside as a mere scrap of paper the Hague Tribunal’s South China Sea Ruling. 

Retired Justice Antonio Carpio notes that these statements are against the Constitution and shows concession to China. He said the statements of Duterte on the sea dispute were “detrimental to the country’s sovereignty and sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea.”

The economic crisis of the Marcos era was triggered by heavy dependence on foreign loans, the establishment of crony capitalism which resulted in significant income inequality, corruption by government officials, and massive capital flight. By 1982, the Philippines’ debt was at $24.4 billion, but it had not seen much in terms of returns due in large part to corruption and mismanagement. The already-declining Philippine economy suffered further as investors preferred neighbouring countries rather than invest in the Philippines. 1984 and 1985 saw the worst recession in Philippine history, with the economy contracting by 7.3 percent for two successive years. With Marcos' failing health, he gradually lost the support of his closest allies until he was finally ousted by the People Power Revolution that culminated in 1986.

Since the start of 2021, the Philippines' total debt has ballooned to 18.5 percent or by P1.8 trillion due more borrowings to fund projects amid falling revenues. Despite its shortcomings, the Philippines economy was registering a 6-percent annual growth in 2019 after decades of being touted as the Sick Man of Asia. 

Then the pandemic came. It mangled the economy beyond recognition.  

Circumstances surrounding the economic recessions during the Marcos and Duterte regimes differ but bad management and bad lack hound the two economies. Marcos’ financial crisis was brought about by corruption and two decades of plunder whereas Duterte’s recession is being fuelled by poor pandemic response. Overreliance on protracted lockdowns and inability to shift to more efficient containment strategy is getting the better of economic recovery. To date, the country is experiencing one of the deepest contractions in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).  

Nothing yet is definite as to who will run for president and vice president as the list of candidates remains very fluid. Still, a Duterte-Marcos tandem is looming large on the horizon. Whether President Duterte slides down to vice president as he intends to do with Bongbong Marcos as his running mate or gives way to  his daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio, seen as a variant of the elder Duterte, running for the highest post with Bong-bong Marcos as her running mate, the presidencies of the late dictator and the present administration of Duterte is a sneak peak of what is to come. 

Of course, nothing is set in stone because the future will be influenced by the prevailing circumstances that present themselves as time passes. One thing is certain, though: With Sara and Bongbong at the helm, we will be in for a similar brand of politics as those of their patriarchs. Either way “Duterte(Marcos)-Marcos-Duterte pa rin.”

Marcos promised that the Philippines will be great again. He failed. He left a Philippines impoverished. Duterte vowed to end criminality and corruption in six months. Instead, under his watch, corruption of epic proportions is happening. And even more than Marcos, Duterte has left a record of violence so terrible that no less than the International Criminal Court has taken notice.

Ferdinand Marcos and Rodrigo Duterte have failed this country and betrayed our people. Will we allow the son and daughter to do the same to us as well?

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Topics: Ferdinand Marcos , Rodrigo Duterte , Association of Southeast Asian Nations , International Criminal Court , Archie Resos
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