Acceptance and legitimacy, isolation and weakness

The United States, China, Japan, Australia, Russia, Israel, Singapore, Bangladesh, South Korea, Brunei, the European Union. All of these countries wasted no time congratulating the Philippines for the clean, peaceful, and orderly conduct of the May 9 presidential election. They all also promised to work with the incoming administration of Bongbong Marcos. More countries are seen to do the same in the coming days.

It might be a good question to ask why acceptance of the election results had been so swift and sweeping. The Marcos narrative, as told by critics and opponents, surely is not lost on the countries mentioned above. In fact some of them, like the US and the EU, had been among the most rabid believers in that damning narrative. So how come they seemed to go head-over-heels with their greetings?

The answer could be any or all of several. One is that the mandate had been very overwhelming. Even a non-Marcos would find it extremely difficult to breach 20 million in a multi-candidate contest. The popular sitting and now outgoing president Rodrigo Duterte only got 16 million plus in a field of five in 2016. But the hated Marcos got close to double that with 31 million plus with 10 candidates running.

Another is that the election was very credible. Everybody except the poor losers saw that it was clean, peaceful, and orderly. If one has to nitpick then sure there were a few glitches here and there plus some isolated violent incidents. But by and large, the conduct of the polls did not in any way taint the results. A number of countries named above had their own observers on the ground. All gave the exercise the thumbs up.

Marcos may be a most reviled name because of past allegations against the father. But those things belong either to God for his mercy or punishment, or to the courts to dispense with according to the evidence at hand. The vote is different. It is a matter of personal choice and involves only two things, acceptance or rejection. Some may introduce moral parameters, engage the conscience. But it is still yes or no in the end.

The above-named countries may not like Marcos. But they cannot ignore the voice of more than 31 million Filipinos, a voice made even louder by the legitimacy of its articulation and clarity in resonance. If they want to work with the small but important Philippines in the business of international relations, they have to accept and respect the choice made clearly and cleanly by its sovereign people.

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It is also in the national interest of these countries, most of which have very clearly defined geopolitical stakes in the region, to quickly stabilize the situation in the Philippines following a very emotional and divisive campaign. All of these countries, mature sovereign states all, know only two well that the days immediately following an election can quickly descend into a vacuum into which can grow anything.

A quick recognition of Marcos and the legitimacy of his election can immediately forestall any threat to the stability of the incoming government with whom the other countries will need to deal with in the immediate future. A stable future Philippine government can make things better and easier for the regional interests of many of these countries.

These countries know that one losing candidate not only has not conceded but could be up to some monkey business that can only disrupt stability in the region. Hence these countries moved swiftly to recognize Marcos and the legitimacy of his mandate. In that way, they strengthened his position and undercut those of any potential plotters and destabilizers. Isolation is the greatest underminer of positions.

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