He went, he saw but did he conquer?
By all accounts, it would seem that PBBM’s trip to the United States was a resounding success.
He met with an enthusiastic Filipino community in New Jersey, delivered his speech at the United Nations General Assembly and met with US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, two of our most important partners.
According to Senate President Miguel Zubiri, the President hit a home run. Even the President said upon arrival that his trip was successful.
We cannot at the moment quantify how much PBBM was able to accomplish because, as the President himself said, the agreements will still have to be operationalized and that takes time.
All the optics during his stay in New York, however, were such that his team could not have asked for a better result.
In his UNGA speech, he was in his element. His speech was eloquently delivered and he represented the country very well indeed. It is as if he has been preparing for such an occasion for a long time.
The US is, of course, his old stomping ground as he reminisced the fact that he first met the First Lady in New York.
One big reason for his trip was his meeting with the US President which is important to both countries.
Not only in terms of attracting American investments but also with regard to our defense relationship with the country which was put on hold by the last administration.
What made PBBM’s trip doubly significant were the statements that came from him and US President Joe Biden.
The statement of President PBMM saying he cannot foresee a future for the country without the US as a partner was powerful and so unequivocal that it does not leave much to the imagination as to its meaning.
On the part of US President Joe Biden, his response was that US defense of the Philippines being ironclad was more than what we can ever hope for.
The US President also mentioned the US wanting to recalibrate our relationship which became somewhat rocky during the last administration due to our former President’s pivot to China.
But how should all these words be interpreted?
Should we take them to mean that there will now be changes in some Philippine policy decisions on foreign affairs as well as defense?
Well, the short answer is that we have to wait and see because nothing is definite yet.
For one, when all these words were being reported, one official here was also issuing statements to the effect that we will continue to be a friend to all and an enemy to none.
People seem to forget that our country entered into a military defense alliance with the US, which means that we are bound by the provisions of that treaty that we signed.
It is not a one-way ticket on the part of the United States to come to our defense when we are invaded.
As we often hear, we cannot have our cake and eat it too.
If we really believe that we do not have enemies and every country is our friend, then what is the point in entering into military alliances?
I hate to think that what we are doing is what we call in our vernacular Balimbing because that is the interpretation that one can make with what we are doing.
We should preserve our self-respect so that other countries will believe us. We have to make up our minds on where we should be with and who our real friends are.
For people who believe they can remain aloof to world events, they should learn a lesson from what happened to some countries in the last two World Wars.
The Low Countries in Europe declared their neutrality believing that they would be spared if there was going to be war.
They were invaded just the same simply because of geography.
Unfortunately for us, our country’s location is in a potential flash point which will make it difficult for us to avoid getting involved if there is conflict. We of course, hope that there will be no such thing because war is hell.
To use a much abused phrase, we live in uncertain times.
There is war going on in Europe which is not showing any signs of ending.
To add to its horror, we hear threats about the possible use of nuclear weapons which is so terrifying.
Add the Taiwan issue into the mix and PBBM has a lot in his hands.
Although that war seems so distant to us, it is affecting our daily lives due to inflation caused by high oil prices.
We can only hope that he will be equal to what lies ahead and be able to make the right decisions that will be best for the country.