May 19, 2023
MANILA — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who has had around 13 foreign trips in less than a year since taking office, may fly to Australia in 2024 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Asean – Australia Dialogue Relations, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said on Thursday.
At a press conference with Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong on Thursday, Manalo was asked about a possible visit of Marcos in Canberra, or Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to Manila.
Manalo said the Philippines appreciates its “high-level engagements” with Australia, which is expected to continue as the two nations “work harder to strengthen cooperation in quite a number of practical areas of mutual interest.”
“There is an opportunity for the President to visit Australia for its 50th anniversary commemorating the Asean – Australia Dialogue Relations in March 2024 and a bilateral visit is also possible [on] a mutually agreed date,” he said.
This, however, would not be the first time both leaders will meet since Marcos and Albanese already met on the sidelines of the Asia – Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Thailand last November.
In February, Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Richard Marles also met with Marcos during his visit to the Philippines.
Marles’ visit, according to Marcos, was a crucial part of the response against recent aggression of the Chinese Coast Guard in the West Philippine Sea.
Wong, who is visiting the Philippines for the first time since assuming office in May 2022, reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to continuing its “longstanding presence in the region, including in the West Philippine Sea [and the] South China Sea.”
“We are open to cooperating with all our partners to exercise freedom of navigation and of flight. And the Philippines is a longstanding, important security partner for us,” she said.
Australia is one of the countries the Philippines and the United States are hoping to establish a trilateral cooperation pact with.