The dangers of an uncritical Biden

Guest of honor today, fugitive from U.S. law again by high noon of June 30, 2028.

Bongbong Marcos and his convicted mother face contempt charges in a lawsuit where they have not paid the court verdict of damages (U.S. $353.6M) for human rights violations under his dictator father’s rule.

“The fact is, when you’re a head of state, you have immunity in all circumstances and you are welcome to the United States in your official role,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in Manila on June 2022.

Today we are witnessing the restoration of one of the worst political dynasties ever that was once a pariah in the world. All the works have been engaged: a walk in the White House gardens with the U.S. president, a pass in review on the Pentagon grounds with the U.S. Secretary of Defense, a merienda at One Observatory Circle, the official residence of the Vice President of the United States.

Sometime 1986, Joseph Biden, once a senator who sat in the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, rose to tell his colleagues that the Marcos regime was a “corrupt, discredited regime” and that it was wrong for the U.S. to be “totally identified” with it. (Credits to the Filipino journalist Regine Cabato and Sammy Westfall of the Washington Post for unearthing the Congressional Records.)

Fast forward to the 2022 elections, it was disinformation that fractured the Philippines and rehabilitated the Marcoses. In the contemporary tensions in the South China Sea, another layer of disinformation is added if China is freed from accountability. The agit-props by some civil society sectors against U.S. imperialism are not working. In the current cat-and-mouse game between China and the U.S., it is the U.S. that is popular among Filipinos. China is not.

But more than a popularity game, Filipino perception is correct. It is China who is the imperialist, intruding into our Exclusive Economic Zone, oppressing our fishermen and our coast guard in the high seas of our territory. Moreover, its saber rattling against Taiwan, another country popular among our Overseas Filipino Workers, makes China the expansionist aggressor, not the U.S.

Ordinary Filipinos understand that what needs a deterrence is Xi Jin Ping’s imperialist adventurism. The list of countries that have assembled nuclear and guided-missile warships in the South China Sea grows by the day. The UK, France, Germany, India, Japan, Australia and Canada have conducted sea patrols in the South China Sea. The formidable QUAD of Japan, Australia, the U.S. and India has conducted joint security patrols since 2021. In the minds of many Filipinos, it is not the U.S. and these countries that are the provocateurs. It is China.

Many Filipinos are sick and tired of our helplessness with China’s intrusions into our EEZ, engineered no less by Rodrigo Duterte’s laughing-stock foreign policy of vulnerability.

In rehabilitating the Marcoses, the U.S. must not shrink back from the ascendancy now on its lap. It must demand from the Marcos Jr. government that there are non-negotiables, namely for the Philippine government, at the very least, to cooperate with the International Criminal Court in prosecuting Duterte, because it is a serious question of human rights accountability. And then it must demand from Marcos Jr. the prisoner of conscience Leila de Lima’s freedom, and for his government to be accessible to the application of the Magnitsky Act on the human rights violators of the Philippines, at least two of who now sit in the senate.

And since it is in the interest of its own Federal Bureau of Investigation, it can demand from the Philippines the extradition of Apollo Quiboloy to the U.S. to face his arrest and prosecution.

The U.S. can regain its role of critically disengaging from corrupt regimes without using the one-track mind of solely legitimizing the Marcos record of plunder and human rights violations. If there’s a carrot, there’s also a stick.

Marcos Jr., on the other hand, has said that he wants to reintroduce the Philippines to the world. That can only happen if we return to a rule of law and do an about-face from the mindless thuggery and lawlessness of the previous Duterte regime. The Duterte misdeed is still fresh in the mind of the world. Marcos Jr. must disengage himself from that. Short of that, he fails the reintroduction.

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.