• The future of Philippine-US relations


    AMERICA, undeniably, is the most popular nation with Filipinos than any sovereign state we interact with in this world. This Filipino mindset started in 1898 when, for $20 million, the US replaced Spain as our colonial master under the 1898 Treaty of Paris. This is easy to understand because the Spaniards oppressed us socially, culturally, economically and politically for almost 400 years.

    But this is drastically changing fast. Predictably, it will deteriorate—in this 21st century—as the Philippines progresses in the next 20 years due to several factors, mainly driven by international economic developments which have always been the propellers of civilizations and geopolitics since man accidentally discovered fire as a weapon in the Stone Age.­­

    The Philippines, under the leadership of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, with his independent foreign policy, will be eventually integrated with our nine neighboring states in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and be a friend of all powerful nations. In fact, international financial institutions have predicted that the Philippines will have an economic growth rate of over seven percent gross domestic product to lead the Asean 10, as China’s growth slows down in the next decade.

    Food and water security will be greatly affected by the borderless climate change factor in the next decades as the world population grows to almost 10 billion in 2050 (and Filipinos may number almost 250 million by then).

    These were also the conclusions of a focused conference of the Center for Philippines Futuristics Studies and Management (Futuristics Center), held jointly with the Manila Times last Friday at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

    The main presentor, Federico M. Macaranas, professor of economics and top management courses at AIM, chairman of AIM’s economics department, and former foreign affairs undersecretary, said that Philippine-US relations will depend largely on developments in American-Chinese relations, the rising Chinese Asia-Pacific development role and the corresponding decline in American influence and economy.

    According to Macaranas, the US strength comes from its “relative position in global leadership and its political role in redefining the 21st century institutions…US military superiority, …US financial clout in global markets—the sizeable US Treasury bills and bonds held by China….and US commitment to liberal internationalism—the ability of the US to network with like-minded nations in promoting stability, prosperity and peace.”

    American weaknesses are the “unclear approaches of President Trump and uncertain consequences to global, regional and Chinese relations on the political-security, economic-financial and socio-cultural areas. Trump blames established elites for causing problems in US polity/economy/society but has personal family interests in investments abroad (with Russia, China and Asean countries).”

    Other factors, Macaranas said, include “divided US views on effectiveness of current US and global institutions in solving international issues of the 21st century in the face of seeming rise of populis as social media empowers people…” and its “neutrality on the issue of sovereignty with regard to the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea ruling after the Hague Permanent Court of Arbitration…the perception that the US is a weak Philippine ally…”

    There are opportunities for the US to redeem itself, Macaranas added, which are “common membership of the US and China in international/regional fora (like the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Asean dialogue partners, global business associations and non-state or civil society groups).”

    But the threats to the US comes from its “inability to understand historical context of China’s contemporary actions, (its) contestable leadership in global regional public goods beyond pure economic matters—climate change, health/education issues of the 21st century, human rights, etc., and forces eroding any nation’s role” in this age of globalization.

    The financial factor, Macaranas concluded, will be the key to this century’s interdependence of sovereign states, just as much as the advances and uses of modern technologies; and the Philippines must integrate with its fellow Asean members and cooperate closer with all nations, especially on climate changes issues in this intermediate future to survive and be counted.

    Political analyst Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, said the Philippines must the ideological alliances that started with the non-aligned nations conference in 1955 and join the global cooperation on climate change and food/water security in ironing out our independent foreign policy.

    In addition, he said Duterte must consider the economic rise of other nations like Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in addition to the American-Chinese Asia-Pacific competition for hegemony, just as much as we should closely monitor developments in Iran, North Korea and Africa. These will all naturally impact on our foreign policy.

    Quicksilver Satcom Ventures president and CEO Dr. Alan Ortiz, former deputy chief of the National Security Council and San Miguel Global Power president, predicted US-Philippine relations will never be the same as the young and middle-aged Filipinos begin to realize the violence of the disguised oppression of American colonialism in our country over the past century.

    He said the complex economic and geopolitical interdependence among sovereign nations in this century cannot, and must not, be ignored by the current Philippine leadership in pursuing its independent foreign policy. “We have stopped seeing the US through rose-colored glasses (which was caused by American media propaganda)…and (our relations) will deteriorate further (in the coming years)……” It will never be same as it was in the last century.

    Most of the (Filipino) millennials and the middle-aged are more inclined to use their portable digital devices like cell phones and miniaturized computers than they are concerned with geopolitics and world economic issues.

    Ortiz concluded: “We need strategic thinkers, real appreciation of our history and see the future to survive and stand on our own” with the independent foreign policy as a friend of everyone empowered with accurate, current information “to stand on our own for our national interests…”

    More of these and the suggested solutions in the next column.

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