May 19, 2023
MANILA — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Thursday said an enhanced partnership is crucial for Asia Pacific nations considering the current geopolitical situation.
He made the remark during the courtesy call of Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong in Malacañang, expressing readiness to work closely with Australia and other regional partners.
“Now we have a situation where partnerships have become extremely important and it might be the key to maintaining the peace not only in the Asia Pacific but the Indo-Pacific region,” Marcos said.
“And that I think is probably the key element in many of the relationships that we have not only between Australia and the Philippines but also of the countries around the Indo-Pacific region,” Marcos added.
The President hopes that Wong’s visit will add to those efforts “when we are continuing to try and strengthen all our partnerships in terms of trade, in terms of people-to-people relationship, and in security and defense.”
He emphasized the relevance of the Australian foreign minister’s visit to the Philippines, saying their two nations should continue the efforts to sustain relationships, partnerships, alliances in response to the rapidly changing geo-political situation.
“And therefore, we have to stay in very close communication so that we present a common plan to meet not only with ASEAN but all member states around the Indo-Pacific,” Marcos told Wong.
Aside from other areas of partnership, Marcos stressed the need to ensure economic security cooperation with Australia particularly as the Philippines undergoes transformation.
“The very important partner in the transformation of our economy is the private sector. And therefore, we welcome any contact with the private sector because we feel that it is impossible for the government to do it all alone,” he said.
“And in that regard, we have now changed many of our regulations, many of our laws to encourage private partnerships with the government, joint venture partnerships with corporations, and every other possible combination of those elements,” Marcos added.
Following his bilateral with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting last year, Marcos said he expects to have another opportunity to meet him in September.
During the courtesy call, Wong conveyed Albanese’s message to the Philippine leader, highlighting the need to further strengthen the two countries’ strategic partnership.
“We want to work with you for our mutual benefit recognizing the importance of economic strength,” Wong told the President.
The President also expressed gratitude to Australia for hosting Filipinos, saying “we are very appreciative of the hospitality and kindness that you have shown our nationals.”