Bongbong on US-China conflict: 'You want to be friends with anyone'

Mico Abarro, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 16 2022 05:42 PM

Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. pays a courtesy call to Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines. Photo from Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian

MANILA - Presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said on Wednesday that the Philippines needed to be "friends with anyone" in case conflict arose between the United States and China.

At the Kapihan sa Manila Bay virtual forum, Marcos said Manila needed to remember what was in the Philippines' national interest if both global powers came to blows. 

"You know, in essence, you want to be friends with anyone, you don't want to be fighting with anybody," Marcos said. 

"I reject the idea that we have to be like, during the Cold War, naka-ally ka dito, naka-ally ka doon, doon kalang. Tayo, we have to remember, ang alliance natin is with the Philippines. Doon natin isipin ano bang interest ang interest ng Pilipinas?" 

Marcos explained that the Philippines would "disappear from the map" if any of what he called geopolitical giants like the U.S., Beijing, and Russia were to "sneeze" at the same time. 

"So that's the precarious situation that we are in. And that's why we have a very fine line to tread when it comes to the geopolitical issues and then, especially the West Philippine Sea, It's a very fine line that we have to tread," he said. 

However, the former senator also said that if he became president, he would continue Manila's Visiting Forces Agreement and Mutual Defense Treaty with the U.S. These pacts would allow Washington and Manila to support each other if either one of them was attacked by an external party. 

Marcos added that the treaties would "evolve" as time passed. 

"The VFA, as it was first signed, is not the same as one that we have now. We will evolve, according to time, according to the developments around the world," he said. 

In October last year, Marcos met with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian, who highlighted the Asian giant's "traditional friendship" with the country during the regime of Ferdinand Marcos. 

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Marcos previously said that he would engage China over the West Philippine Sea issue, with the aim of getting a bilateral agreement with Beijing over the contested waterway. He had also pledged to pursue an independent foreign policy like President Rodrigo Duterte, who has sought closer ties with China during his term. 

The former senator has also said that his family's treatment at the hands of the U.S. would not factor into his government's foreign policy decisions. Washington persuaded Bongbong's father, the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, to flee with his family to Hawaii at the height of the 1986 EDSA Revolution.