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James Stavridis

Philippines Under a New Marcos Won’t Be an Easy US Ally

Biden, in Asia, should send a signal that Washington won’t let a longtime friend drift into China’s sphere.

Another Marcos, another Duterte.

Another Marcos, another Duterte.

Photographer: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images 

This month’s landslide election in the Philippines returned the Marcos family to power, in the form of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the eldest son of the longtime dictator and staunch US ally who was overthrown in 1986. For Joe Biden, now on his first trip to the region as US president, it’s unclear whether this is good news or bad.

The previous Filipino president, Rodrigo Duterte, had a rocky relationship with Washington (for example, calling President Barack Obama “the son of a whore”). Duterte’s daughter Sara was elected vice president on a platform of continuing her father’s programs, including a willingness to tighten ties with China.