Peace goal

His second visit to the United States on the first year of a six-year tenure underscored the utmost importance that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. places on winning peace in the region.

China has been rattling the saber, so to speak, lately in response to the increasing engagement between the United States and the Philippines.

The recent Balikatan exercises, which was the most comprehensive exercise since the US bases were withdrawn after the Senate rejected 1991 an extension of the 1947 agreement, was responded to by China through the sending of hundreds of mostly militia ships into the disputed waters.

Among the topics on the agenda during the dialogue with US President Joe Biden would be crafting a formula to “make the West Philippine Sea an area of peace, security, stability and prosperity,” according to a spokesperson of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile, nonetheless, said Mr. Marcos recognized that peace can only be attained through the principle of balance of power instead of what the insufferable detractors demand which is adherence to international law.

Nations caught up in a conflict do not recognize international law but only the balance of power, according to Enrile.

Reading through a Washington statement, the Marcos-Biden meeting will indeed be a conference to maintain a peaceful balance in the region.

Biden will reaffirm the United States’ ironclad commitment to the defense of the Philippines, and the leaders will discuss efforts to strengthen the longstanding U.S.-Philippines alliance.

The expanded Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement is key to the reaffirmation of the Americans to mutual relations.

“The two leaders will review opportunities to deepen economic cooperation and promote inclusive prosperity, expand our nations’ special people-to-people ties, invest in the clean energy transition and the fight against climate change, and ensure respect for human rights.”

The clincher, however, was in the final line of the statement indicating that the “two leaders will also discuss regional matters and coordinate on efforts to uphold international law and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Such coordination will become possible through amendments in the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty that are unfairly skewed in favor of the United States.

China has been using brawn to exert its claim which has been addressed and debunked in the Permanent Court of Arbitration award in 2016.

The arbitral ruling, however, is nothing more than a moral victory for the Philippines since it cannot be enforced.

China refused to participate in the arbitral proceeding, stating that it will only recognize the results of discussions among territorial claimants which, however, it completely dominates.

The mainland considers the PCA ruling as having been strongly influenced by the United States considering that the standoff on Scarborough Shoal happened shortly after then-President Barack Obama declared an Asian pivot of American forces, away from the Middle East.

The stalemate at Scarborough Shoal also started after a newly-acquired Hamilton cutter of the Philippine Navy intercepted Chinese poachers in the disputed region.

In a US-brokered solution, Philippine vessels retreated from the stand-off while Chinese ships stood their ground and never left up to now.

China since then had increased its aggressiveness on its maritime claims and had built permanent structures on the outcrops in the WPS.

BBM will bring a formula to Biden that would guarantee the protection of Philippine interests while restraining China through peaceful engagement.

The deal is that the Philippines’ interest would have to be protected first before the contending superpowers in the region push through with their hegemonic objectives.

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