September 2, 2022
JAKARTA – In keeping with the ASEAN tradition of new leaders touring the region’s capitals, Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr is expected to visit Jakarta on Sunday and Monday at the invitation of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in the new leader’s first overseas visit since his inauguration in late June.
The two presidents will be “exchanging views on major issues affecting the region” and exploring cooperation on various issues, including defense, maritime issues and the economy, according to a press release by the Philippine foreign ministry. They will also sign certain key agreements, including a bilateral plan of action for the next five years.
Marcos Jr is also scheduled to meet with local businesses to promote trade and investment under his presidency, on top of holding meetings with the Filipino community in Indonesia to reiterate his commitment to ensuring the diaspora’s welfare. After his Jakarta visit, he is set to fly to Malaysia and Singapore to sign several pacts on security, counterterrorism and data privacy.
“The President’s back-to-back visits to Indonesia and Singapore as his inaugural overseas trip demonstrate the importance the Philippines places on relations with fellow ASEAN neighbors,” the press release said.
Along with Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia, the Philippines was a founding member of ASEAN when it was established on Aug. 8, 1967, in Bangkok. With a population of more than 113 million, it is the second-most populous nation in ASEAN after Indonesia.
Officials from Indonesia’s Presidential Palace and the Foreign Ministry have confirmed the visit.
In mid-August, the Philippine ambassador to the United States said Marcos Jr had proposed visiting Indonesia on his way to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, where he is being held in contempt by the United States for “contumacious conduct causing direct harm to a [class of human rights victims]”. The order, which was first issued in 1995, has been extended until 2031 and currently amounts to US$353 million, Philippine news outlet Rappler reported.
Marcos Jr, son of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, won a landslide victory against his rival much to the dismay of rights activists and some students who staged protests outside Manila’s Elections Commission. Marcos Jr claimed he should not be judged by “his family’s past”.
The Philippines is often cited as the oldest democracy in the region. Its current political system took shape after the “people’s power” revolution forced then-president Marcos and his family, including Marcos Jr, to flee to the US in 1986.
It was reported that when Marcos fled, US customs agents discovered 24 suitcases of gold bricks and diamond jewelry hidden in diaper bags. When the presidential mansion was seized, it was discovered that former first lady Imelda Marcos had over 2,700 pairs of shoes in her closet.
After various attempts to move to another country failed, the Marcoses remained in Hawaii until the patriarch’s death in 1989.
Marcos Jr was among the first to return to the Philippines, local news outlets have reported. He arrived in the country in 1991 and soon sought political office.