Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was sworn in as president of the Philippines in a ceremony in Manila on Thursday (30/6), succeeding Rodrigo Duterte. In his first speech as president, Marcos Jr. thanked the Filipino people for granting what he called the "largest electoral mandate in the history of Philippine democracy". He promised to take his country forward, with policies that benefit everyone.
On one hand, a number of people are waiting for his promises, including increasing job opportunities and lowering the price of basic commodities and basic needs. On the other hand, both the Philippines and the international community are also waiting for Marcos Jr.'s foreign policy stance, especially related to the relationship between the Philippines and the United States and between the Philippines and China, which is often problematic.
Over the past few years, the Philippines has had a territorial dispute with China. In solving this problem, the Duterte administration prioritizes diplomatic relations with China rather than resolving it firmly. However, in 2016, an arbitral tribunal established under the International Law of the Sea ruled in favour of the Philippines over China's claims.
Regarding the South China Sea dispute, Marcos Jr. Emphasized that he would stick to the decision that clarified the Philippines' sovereign rights. In this regard, the new Philippine president promised to be firm and consistent with his stance. However, that doesn't mean choosing the hard line or war, he will still prioritize diplomacy.
What about the Philippines-US relations? Under the Duterte administration, relations between the two countries, which have a very long history, experienced ups and downs, especially in the military field. In February 2020, Duterte scaled back joint military exercises and threatened to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement. But the problem was finally resolved in July 2021.
Will the Marcos Jr. government continue to maintain good relations between the Philippines and the United States? Doubts arose because of the poor past track record of relations between the Marcos family and the United States government. This raises the view that the situation will not improve in the future.
People may have doubts, yet, Marcos Jr clearly said, as quoted from mediaindonesia.com (26/6), that he wants to be friends with everyone. This means that Marcos Jr. will establish partnerships with other countries, including China and the United States without compromising the interests of the Philippines.
To be sure, ASEAN and Indonesia in particular, hope that the new government in the Philippines will further enhance cooperation among countries in the Southeast Asian region which has been well established.