The feud between Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte has been escalating since the 2023 presidential election, which Marcos won by a narrow margin. Duterte, who had endorsed his daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio as his successor, refused to concede and accused Marcos of fraud and cheating. He also launched a series of legal and political challenges to Marcos’ legitimacy and authority, such as filing an electoral protest, calling for a people’s revolt, and forming a parallel government.
The feud has divided the nation and the ruling coalition, as well as exposed the deep-rooted and long-standing animosity between the two powerful political dynasties. Marcos is the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled the Philippines with an iron fist from 1965 to 1986, and whose regime was marked by corruption, human rights abuses, and martial law. Duterte is the son of the late Vicente Duterte, who was a staunch anti-Marcos leader and a key figure in the 1986 people power revolution that ousted the dictator.
The feud has also affected the Philippines’ foreign policy and relations, especially with the US and China, the two superpowers that have competing interests and influence in the region.
The US and China have different perspectives and reactions to the Marcos-Duterte feud, such as:
The US has been supportive of Marcos and his administration, as he has reversed Duterte’s pro-China and anti-US stance, and has restored and strengthened the alliance and partnership between the two countries. Marcos has also been cooperative and aligned with the US on various regional and global issues, such as the South China Sea, the Indo-Pacific, and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The US has also been critical of Duterte and his actions, as he has undermined the democratic institutions and processes, and has threatened the stability and security of the Philippines. The US has also expressed its concern and condemnation over Duterte’s human rights violations and drug war, which have killed thousands of people.
China has been supportive of Duterte and his camp, as he has pursued a friendly and pragmatic relationship with China, and has downplayed and compromised the territorial and maritime disputes in the South China Sea. Duterte has also been receptive and grateful to China’s economic and health assistance, and has welcomed China’s investments and infrastructure projects in the Philippines.
China has also been hostile and wary of Marcos and his policies, as he has adopted a confrontational and adversarial attitude towards China, and has enhanced his cooperation and coordination with the US and its allies. China has also accused Marcos of being a puppet and a stooge of the US, and has interfered and meddled in the Philippines’ internal affairs.
The Marcos-Duterte feud has various implications for the US and China, as well as for the Philippines and the region, such as:
The feud will increase the US-China rivalry and competition in the region, as both countries will try to gain more influence and leverage over the Philippines and its outcome. The US will seek to consolidate and expand its support for Marcos and his allies, and to isolate and weaken Duterte and his followers. The US will also try to use the Philippines as a strategic partner and a counterweight to China’s growing presence and power in the region. China will seek to maintain and protect its ties with Duterte and his loyalists, and to undermine and discredit Marcos and his opponents. China will also try to use the Philippines as a strategic partner and a buffer against the US’s encroachment and pressure in the region.
The feud will affect the Philippines’ stability and development, as it will create more uncertainty and instability in the political and security situation, and will hamper the economic and social recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. The feud will also polarize and divide the nation and the society, and will erode the trust and confidence in the democratic institutions and processes. The feud will also expose and exacerbate the underlying and longstanding problems and challenges facing the Philippines, such as poverty, inequality, corruption, and violence.
The feud will influence the future direction and prospects of the Philippines’ foreign policy and relations, as it will shape and sway the preferences and choices of the Filipino people and leaders. The feud will also highlight and test the principles and values of the Philippines, such as sovereignty, independence, and democracy. The feud will also determine and define the role and position of the Philippines in the regional and global order, such as being a leader, a follower, or a balancer.