US President Joe Biden met on Thursday with his Filipino counterpart Ferdinand Marcos and said the alliance between the two countries “is rooted in democracy” – even though the Philippine leader is son of the dictator who ruled the Asian country for two decades, on charges of stealing billions of dollars from the public coffers. The meeting took place in the wake of the 77th UN General Assembly in New York.
In a statement posted on his social media, the American mentioned the historic ties between the two countries and cited the “millions of Filipino-Americans who enrich” the US. “Our alliance is strong and enduring,” he added.
Biden’s obvious contradiction has geopolitical reasons: the Filipinos are allies of the Americans in the dispute with the Chinese for influence in Asia. At this Thursday’s meeting, by the way, the two leaders talked about freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea – a strategic corridor for international navigation and the scene of military exercises of the communist dictatorship.
The United States often accuses China of increasing what it calls provocations in the region. Beijing, for its part, says that Washington and other Western powers have turned the scene into a combat arena. The Chinese claim to have possession of small islands in the sea, but in 2016 the Philippines itself managed to invalidate such a claim in the United Nations maritime court. Beijing, however, does not recognize the decision.
“The United States’ role in maintaining peace in our region is something that is greatly appreciated by all countries in the region and especially the Philippines,” Marcos, also known as Bongbong, said on Thursday.
For Biden, the Filipino’s words fit like a glove amid tensions between China and Taiwan – a rebel island allied with the US. This is because, in the event of military actions in the region, the Americans would most likely need to use Philippine territory. The United States, by the way, wants to gain greater access to bases in the Philippines, given the need to prepare for an eventual contingency.
A few weeks ago, Manila’s ambassador to the United States, Jose Manuel Romualdez, told the Japanese newspaper Nikkei that such an agreement would only be made if the Philippines considered that the presence of US military personnel in the region is important for the security of the Asian country.
According to the White House, the two leaders also talked about Covid-19 and renewable energy. Biden also reportedly thanked Marcos for opposing Russia in the Ukraine War.
The Filipino is on his first trip to the United States in 15 years. He is the target of a contempt order to the American justice for refusing to cooperate in a process that demands from his family the restitution of US$ 2 billion (R$ 10.2 billion) to the families looted in the 1970s, when the country was ruled under martial law.