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US vows to defend PH

Marcos-Biden talks also touch on SCS issue, other bilateral topics

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. met on Thursday (Friday in Manila) with US President Joe R. Biden in New York, as the American leader reaffirmed the United States’ “ironclad commitment” to the defense of the Philippines.

ALLIES MEET. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. meets with US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York City on September 22. AFP

The two leaders discussed the situation in the South China Sea and underscored their support for freedom of navigation and overflight and the peaceful resolution of disputes.

They also discussed opportunities to expand bilateral cooperation on a wide range of issues, including energy security, climate action, and infrastructure, a White House statement said.

Both presidents also discussed Russia’s war against Ukraine and its implications for energy prices and food security, as well as ASEAN matters, the crisis in Myanmar, and the importance of respect for human rights.

Mr. Marcos also thanked the United States for its “massive” assistance at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the early shipment of almost 36 million vaccine doses early on.

The President, who cited the long history of relations between the two countries, also noted the role of the United States in maintaining peace in the region.

“We continue to look to the United States for that continuing partnership and the maintenance of peace in our region,” Mr. Marcos said.

“The primary consideration of the Philippines and the guiding principle of the Philippine foreign policy is to encourage peace, and I hope that we will be able to discuss further the goals that our two countries will play together and individually as we continue down that road maintaining peace, despite all the complexities that have arisen in the past few months,” he added.

“We have always considered the United States our partner, our ally, and our friend,” Mr. Marcos said.

Biden, meanwhile, said the foundations are strong in the US-Philippine alliance, which he said was “of critical importance.”

“And we have strong ties, including millions of Filipino Americans who are very proud of their ancestry and desperately want us to continue to have a strong relationship,” said Biden. “For decades, the alliance has strengthened both of us, I believe.”

Mr. Marcos met Biden on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, where the Philippine leader took note of the rich-poor divide and called for action on inequality and climate change.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez on Friday said Philippine-US ties will continue to remain strong following the meeting between Mr. Marcos and Biden.

ALLIES MEET. Biden later shakes hands with Mr. Marcos’ son, House Senior Deputy Majority Leader Ferdinand Alexander “Sandro” A. Marcos III (inset) with the President, Speaker Martin G. Romualdez, and Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez looking on. AFP

“The productive meeting augurs well for the overall relations between our two countries,” Romualdez said.

“The US is a major partner and ally of the Philippines in the areas of economic, defense, cultural, and investment cooperation. I can see the meeting fostering an improved bilateral partnership in those areas,” he added.

The US recognition of the Philippines as its partner in the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) is “significant,” Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said Friday.

On the possibility of coming into a new agreement or redefining the MDT, the Press Secretary said it was discussed but no further information has been given to her yet.

On the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which allows US troops to train and advise the Philippine military in disaster response and its fight against terrorists, Angles said it was not specifically mentioned in the plans of both the Philippines and the US.

Romualdez also reiterated Mr. Marcos’ call for American investors to do more business in the Philippines.

The President earlier told US businessmen that he could not imagine the future of the Philippines without the US as its partner.

“We need more investments to create jobs and income and improve the lives of our people,” Romualdez said.

He pointed out that there are several areas where US companies could invest, including manufacturing, railways and other infrastructure, power generation, and private-public partnership projects.

According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the country’s major sources of foreign direct investments (FDIs) are Singapore, Japan, the United States, and the Netherlands.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles, meanwhile, said the US recognition of the Philippines as its partner in the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) is significant.

She said there was no specific mention of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) during the meeting of the two leaders.

In May, Marcos discussed with US Charges d’ Affaires Heather Variava the possibility of extending and “redefining” the VFA.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said the President hit a home run with his working trip to the United States.

“His message that the Philippines is back in business resonated well, whether in his meetings with business movers or his one-on-one with Biden, either in the stock exchange or in the United Nations.

“This is the kind of face-to-face diplomacy which yields tremendous dividends for our nation, from job-creating investments to agreements that promote the social good,” he said.

 

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