Asian Insider Podcast: After Duterte's dissonance, Marcos Jr will pivot back to old ally United States

Philippine President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. speaks during a change of command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Philippines, August 8, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

Synopsis: Every fourth Friday of the month, The Straits Times' US bureau chief Nirmal Ghosh presents Asian views of the United States.

Newly elected Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr will soon visit Singapore and Indonesia, and probably the United States, before the end of 2022  – providing clues as to how he will navigate the increasingly dangerous space of the US-China rivalry in which his country, as a US ally, is a potential frontline state.

The signs are a departure from the truculent style of former President Rodrigo Duterte, notorious for sniping at the US and seemingly veering closer to China. What does the Philippines expect of the United States from now on?

In this episode, Nirmal Ghosh hosts two guest experts. One is Marites Vitug, long-time investigative journalist, editor at large of the media organization Rappler, and author of among others, the book “Rock Solid” on the case on the South China Sea, that the Philippines won against China in 2016.  

The other is Richard Heydarian, political commentator, columnist and incoming senior lecturer at the University of the Philippines.

Highlights (click/tap above):

2:15 Why President Marcos Jr wants to keep relations with all major powers on an even keel?

6:25 Can Marcos Jr walk the talk? How will he react to Chinese incursions, Chinese coast guard presence in the west Philippine sea? 

8:00 The US has a high trust rating or favourability among Filipinos, but there are surveys where American alliance reliabilities have been questioned

9:55 Why a results-oriented constructive relationship is what Marcos wants with the US

12:00 The US gave the Philippines 33 million doses of Covid vaccine, versus China's 6 million doses: A big plus for the US and allies in the region? 

13:40 A key development to watch: The Enhanced Defense Corporation Agreement, where the US is supposed to forward deployment presence in an event of contingency with Taiwan

Remote video URL

Produced by: Nirmal Ghosh (, Ernest Luis and Teo Tong Kai 

Edited by: Hadyu Rahim

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