By Herman Tiu Laurel

Last Jan. 7, 2022, the Asian Century Philippine Strategic Studies Institute Inc. (ACPSSII) co-sponsored with the Kamuning Bakery Café and the Manila Times, a webinar on the “PBBM sate visit to China: Impact on the Philippines’ economy and future”

Speaking in the webinar were: Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industries Inc. (FFCCCII) president Henry Lim Bonliong representing up to 10,000 full range of giant to small Filipino-Chinese businesses in the country.

Civic and philanthropic leader Sixto “Noy” Benedicto, president of the Association for Philippine-China Understanding (APCU) -- established in 1974 -- and a silent but key and instrumental factor in President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos’s diplomatic initiative with China formalizing diplomatic relations in 1975;

Dr. Aaron “Jed” Rabena, research fellow of the Asia Pathways to Progress Foundation Inc. (APPFI) and Prof. Anna Malindog-Uy, external vice-president of the ACPSSII. It was moderated by Wilson Lee Flores, director of the APCU and empresario of the premier media forum lace Kamuning Bakery Café who also spoke as one of the presidential delegation participant.

Last but not least of all yours truly Herman Tiu Laurel as panel reactor to the presentations and devil’s advocate to the discussion, presenting the more critical and challenging aspects of the issue at hand -- what PBBM has to do now returning from the smashing success of a state visit to China which rolled out the full honors for the Philippines’ chief representative to the world trumpets blaring, 21-gun salute roaring, honor guards galore.

I wrote down my reactions entitled “Impact of the PBBM State Visit to China”:

“After observing the spectacular welcome President Xi Jinping staged for President Bongbong Marcos as its first state visitor in 2023 with the clear purpose of showing the Filipino people and the world the utmost priority China is giving the Philippines among its relations in the global community;

And after witnessing the unmistakable intention of President Bongbong Marcos of making China as his administration’s first foreign, official state visit outside of ASEAN, that is to put relations with the People’s Republic of China, the primus inter pares among nations of Asia, as his top foreign relations focus;

President Bongbong Marcos has now shown his firm resolution to continue the constitutional ‘independent foreign policy’ principle and practice reincarnated by his predecessor President Rodrigo R. Duterte, pursued by PBBM’s father President Ferdinand E. Marcos and prescribed by the First Philippine Republic’s first foreign minister Apolinario Mabini.

PBBM’s historic first state visit outside of ASEAN to China also gave due respect not only to ASEAN centrality but also carrying forward the Asian Moment that was 2022 that culminated in three global summits held in ASEAN and Asia in November, which PBBM now resumes in 2023 with the visit to China.

This visit was another historic step in the march of the Philippines towards the Asian Century and into the vision of a world of ‘Forever Peace and Prosperity’ and away from 500 years of ‘forever wars’ that the West brought to Asia and the world. Now, in the spirit of the ‘strongest partnership’ the Philippines can truly build its new society of prosperity in a region of harmony and stability.
The remaining question as President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. returns to the Philippines is, ‘What actions will President Bongbong Marcos, Jr. take to fulfill the rich symbolisms of his state visit to China.’ There are bold moves to make to materialize the historic symbolisms such as:

-- Ending the dalliances with the Western imperialist powers,
-- Ending the sabotage of the Philippines’ economic, political and geopolitical blossoming by the West’s Fifth Column in the Philippine polity,
-- The full and uninterrupted commitment to the ‘comprehensive strategic cooperation’ with the engine of development of the world,
-- Solidarity with the ASEAN majority to exclude outside powers from the South China Sea

All these will begin with the fast-tracking of the Philippine-China 60/40 oil-gas joint venture which is only being held back by the monumental obstructionism of a Western-led transnational oil consortium, as well as the disciplining of the foreign affairs and security bureaucracies from diverging from official government foreign policies.

Thank you.”

President BBM came home to a host of problems, very urgent problems. I won’t be surprised if the euphoria and promise of the successful state visit would quickly wear off and swiftly get lost in the noises of the domestic situation facing the NAIA systems crash and the Black Nazarene PNP mobilization. Undeterred focus on the economic cooperation with China will be the unerring guiding light through all these.

In the surveys of the entire 2022 to December, the highest concerns of Filipinos has always been high prices or inflation, jobs and livelihood, corruption, poverty, education and everything concerning the material well-being of the Filipino family. Published on Dec. 16, 2022 the survey found:

Majority of Filipinos believe that the Philippine economy is the most important issue that President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. should focus on PUBLiCUS Asia Inc. covered a total of 1,500 female and male Filipino respondents showed that at least 25 percent of Filipinos are most concerned.

This was followed by prices of goods and inflation which had a rating of 16 percent, climbing from 11 percent in the third quarter of 2022.

Meanwhile, the Strabase ADR Institute commissioned Pulse Asia to do a survey that found out that in the surveys of the entire 2022 to December, the highest concerns of Filipinos has always been high prices or inflation, jobs and livelihood, corruption, poverty, education, and everything concerning the material well-being of the Filipino family. Published on Dec. 16, 2022 the survey found:

Those security issues out of 16 “most urgent national concerns” ranked No. 15 with 3 percent (repeat, 3 percent only) of 1,200 survey respondents saying it is of immediate concern, but Stratbase media reports presents only the security angle to highlight so-called support for the security arrangements with the US and its allies.

For the Filipino respondents, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. should also focus on the following issues: corruption (11 percent), jobs (11 percent), poverty (10 percent), education (6 percent), wages (5 percent), peace and order or crime (4 percent), illegal drugs (3 percent), and environment (2 percent). Nowhere in the report of the survey did it show that Filipinos are worried about China and the so-called West Philippine Sea.

Who was it who said that running the Philippines is much, much more difficult than running the United States of America, or today running the vast country of China. 

About the Columnist

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Herman Tiu Laurel is a veteran journalist and founder of think tank PHILIPPINE-BRICS Strategic Studies.