Mario Fetalino

Guts and wits PBBM’s tickets to world fame

March 5, 2024 Mario Fetalino Jr. 87 views

IT’S not surprising at all that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is being hailed as ‘one of the most interesting leaders’ in Southeast Asia.

Fighting a Goliath not only makes Marcos interesting. It also makes him the ‘most watched’ leader in the region.

And why not? It’s only the Philippines led by Marcos standing its ground against China’s bullying in the West Philippine Sea.

In fairness to Vietnam, the battle-hardened country once refused to be bullied by China over territorial disputes.

But Vietnam engaged China in a shootout in Spratly Islands and lost the battle miserably.

China won in what was called the “Johnson South Reef Skirmish’ obviously because it was far more superior militarily than Vietnam.

Our Vietnamese brothers have lots of ‘cojones’. I give them that. But it takes more than balls to deal with a much bigger enemy.

To level the playing field and even raise the possibility of scoring a key victory, one would also need lots of ‘kukote’ to do the job.

And that’s what Marcos has been doing lately – using ‘guts and wits’ to tame a bully.

Marcos knows an armed confrontation with China would only result to a humiliating defeat for the Philippines.

So even when diplomacy failed, Marcos kept his composure and opted to get smart. He chose to get tough without getting rough.

Amid China’s restrictive behavior in the WPS, the Philippines continued to assert its sovereign rights over the contested water territories.

This persistent assertiveness apparently got into the nerves of the Chinese Coast Guard. Irked, they fired water cannons on Philippine vessels on mere supply missions.

Unfortunately for the CCG, the incident was caught by the lens and eventually condemned by the global community.

The same community led by superpower United States has thrown support to the Philippines which is now slowly but surely gaining triumphs in WPS.

Aside from dismantling Chinese floating barriers, the Philippine Coast Guard has also increased its presence in WPS to protect Filipino fishermen previously sent away by the CCG.

Marcos recently flew again to Australia to attend a gathering of leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) where the Philippines could win more support from its neighbors.

The President earlier brought home three agreements with the Australian government, one of which aims to strengthen the two countries’ cooperation on maritime security.

While in Australia last week, Marcos was hailed by an independent think tank from the Land Down Under for emerging “one of the most interesting, influential and closely watched leaders” in Southeast Asia since he assumed office in June 2022.

Marcos’ address before the Australian Parliament on Feb. 29 emphasized his crucial role as a regional leader in the ASEAN, according to Lowy Institute Executive Director Dr. Michael Fullilove.

“If there’s anyone who thinks individuals don’t matter in politics, I’d invite them to look at the changes in the Philippines in the past 18 months, in particular the way that Manila has become so much more determined to defend its sovereignty,” Dr. Fullilove said at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia.

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