Philippines–Soviet Union relations
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Efforts to strengthen diplomatic relations between the two countries faced many obstacles. There was mutual distrust between the two countries, with the Philippines being a key ally of the United States, the Soviet Union's main rival in the Cold War. Anti-communist sentiment among many Filipinos was also an obstacle.
Since 1967, the Philippines became more active in improving ties with the Eastern Bloc countries. Even as the Philippines began softening ties with the Soviet Union and its allies, the Philippines remained cautious and suspicious toward the Soviet Union approaching the union with a "backward-forward" style of diplomacy. The Philippines has been wary to the Soviet Union due to ideological differences and past links to underground movements.
The Soviet Union, also showed mistrust towards the Philippines due to its strong ties with the United States. Any development that would lead towards the eroding of the ties between the Philippines and the United States would be welcomed by the union, but the Soviet Union itself admitted that those developments would be limited.
It took 20 years after the formation of the Soviet Union would the Philippines consider to establish ties with the former. Salvador Lopez proposed a review of relations with the Soviet Union and its allies, reduce dependence on the United States and an Asian policy that would take account China's emergence as a power of Asia. The administration of Diosdado Macapagal rejected the proposals.
It was during the presidency of Filipino president Ferdinand Marcos, that the relations between the Philippines and the Soviet Union reached its peak. In a Foreign Policy statement released in January 1967, Marcos acknowledged the need to pursue more vigorously for establishment of Philippine ties with the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. Also in the same month, Foreign Affairs secretary Narciso Ramos spoke of possible relaxation on the ban against trading with socialist states. As part of Marcos' foreign policy, the Philippines sent missions to the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, East Germany and Bulgaria. Formal diplomatic relations between the two countries was established on June 2, 1976.
The Soviet Union composed of 1–2 percent of the Philippines total trade. The two states granted each other most favored nation status on custom duties, internal taxes and the issuance of import and export taxes.
The most exported products of the Philippines were food products, manufactured goods and alcohol products such as beer, rum and gin while the Soviet Union exported industrial equipment, minerals, tools, machinery, coal and oil to the Philippines.
During the 1972–1984 period the Philippines recorded a favorable balance of trade with the Soviet Union but in 1985 onwards the Philippines exports of traditional products to the Soviet Union were insufficient.
A feasibility study was conducted in 1982 as part of a joint venture of the Philippines and the Soviet Union for the construction of a 1 million ton per year cement plant that would significantly add to the current annual output level of 4 to 4.5 million tons enabling the Philippines to export cement. The project was discontinued due to financial constraint. It would have been the first Soviet industrial project in the Philippines.
Factors affecting bilateral relations
The Philippines has long been plagued by poverty and agrarian issues which caused the rise of communist and secessionist movements in the country. The Philippines is a Catholic majority nation which is an important factor because the Catholic Church is against Communism which associates it to atheism, violence and dictatorship. Filipinos were also hostile to atheists, and up until 1986 atheism was a crime worth 10 years in jail. The United States and Japan's economic aid to Southeast Asian nations, complicates relations. The Red Scare and the intensified insurgency made the Filipinos suspicious towards the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union remained distrustful of the Philippines due to its ties with the United States, with the Philippines assisting the United States in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War which the Soviet Union was involved to.
Alleged Soviet sponsored terrorism
Reports of the New People's Army and radical labour groups being sponsored by the Soviet Union circulated. The Philippine Senate urged an investigation of Soviet aid to labour groups and insurgents, and the sighting of submarines allegedly belonging to the Soviet Union. The Soviet Ambassador to Manila, Vadim Shabalin denied Soviet involvement and such allegations were "flagrantly distorting" to the Soviet Union's foreign policy towards the Philippines.
- Asiaweek, 10 August 1986
- Thambipillai, Pushpa, and Daniel Mutuszewski ed. The Soviet Union and the Asia-Pacific Region: Views from the Region. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1989.
- Salvador Lopez, New Directions in Philippine Foreign Policy (Quezon City:U.P. Law Center 1975), 18.
- Manila Times, 25 January 1967, 22A
- Benjamin Domingo, The Making of Filipino Foreign Policy (Manila, Foreign Service Institute, 1983), 224.
- "Embassy of the Russia Federation to the Republic of Philippines". Philippines.mid.ru. Retrieved 2013-09-04.
- Brillante, 135-140
- Manila Bulletin, 11, 15–16 July 1987.