April 25, 2023
MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday disclosed some discussion points in his agenda when he meets with US President Joe Biden next week, including the Philippines’ military agreements with the United States that need to “evolve” amid the changing geopolitical situations.
“We will clarify again, really, these treaty agreements between the Philippines and America and we will look into them because of the many changes [that have occurred],” the president said in a video interview over state-owned Radyo Pilipinas.
Marcos particularly mentioned the 1951 Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty and the 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement.
“We have to evolve it. It has to evolve because there is a need to adjust them because there is really an evolution, there are also changes in the situations we are facing here — in the South China Sea, amid the events in Taiwan, North Korea, all of these [where] the situation is a bit simmering,” he said.
Marcos said he would also speak with Biden on “what should we do to lessen the rhetoric because nowadays the exchange of words is a bit serious, [and] offensive words are already being uttered somewhat, so, of course, we worry about that.”
The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) last week announced that Marcos would leave the country on April 30 and his itinerary would begin on May 1 with a meeting with Biden.
This will be Marcos’ second trip to the United States as president. He first met with Biden on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September last year.
After the US trip, President Marcos will attend the coronation of King Charles III in London on May 6 and will travel to Indonesia for the 42nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit from May 9 to May 11.
During the video interview, Mr. Marcos said he would also discuss climate change with his American counterpart and seek help on what strategies should be adopted.
“They’re giving something that’s called green bond, meaning they will give funds to help us fix [the ill-effects of climate change]. For example, the no-build zones [wherein homes] will be moved away from the seas so that they won’t be hit by strong typhoons,” he said.
“We will ask for plenty of help because [we] are recovering from the pandemic. And like in the other trips that I made, [we will pursue] what partnerships can we forge, what new technologies can we bring back to the Philippines that we can use,” he added.
Marcos said the country’s “special relationship” with the United States did not always involve military matters, but also economic affairs and cultural exchange.
“We should look at what good partnerships we can have with the US. We will talk with President Biden on how we can be continuously assisted. And it covers so many subjects, not just the military that is being discussed nowadays because of the Edca (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement), but also the economy, tourism, health care, all of them,” he pointed out.
The PCO earlier said Marcos’ visit would help advance his priorities in such areas as agriculture, energy, climate change, digital transformation and technology, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, supply chains, and infrastructure.
At the same time, the president said the Philippines became “well-known” during the pandemic because of its healthcare workers, and recalled that during his overseas trips, foreign leaders would always ask him if their countries could get Filipino nurses, doctors, and medical technologists.
“Because we really became well-known during the pandemic, and we remain their number one preferred source of health-care workers—that’s one of the things we’ll talk about because there is a problem on immigration, training, all of those things. We want to give a chance to those who want to go abroad to find a good job,” he added.
Marcos said he was looking into his schedule with Biden to see if they could talk about all the matters that he wanted.
For items that would not be tackled, he said these would be done through “contacts” in the American government and private sector.
“It’s not only President Biden and me. We have businessmen, we have [officials] from different departments with us so that can really clarify what is really the partnership of the Philippines and the United States,” he said.
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