November 8, 2023
MANILA – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will visit the US Indo-Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii during his weeklong trip to the United States in mid-November where he is likely to raise the South China Sea dispute with top US officials, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Tuesday.
Foreign Undersecretary Charles Jose said the president would be in Hawaii from Nov. 18 to Nov. 19 to meet with business leaders and the Filipino community after attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Leaders’ Meeting in San Francisco from Nov. 14 to 17.
A report by the Japanese news outlet Nikkei said Marcos would meet with Adm. John Aquilino, the commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command at the headquarters in Pearl Harbor on Oahu island.
Jose, however, could not yet confirm the meeting with Aquilino. “I do not have the information as to who will be on the other side,” he said.
The DFA official added that the President would have a security briefing while he is at the US Indo-Pacific Command, which might include the situation in the heavily disputed South China Sea.
Asked about the significance of the President’s visit to the US military headquarters, Jose could not immediately respond.
Pressed about the significance of the visit in the face of Beijing’s growing aggression in the South China Sea and amid talks of enhanced trilateral cooperation among the Philippines, United States, and Japan, Jose again paused before responding.
“Well, of course, it adds a layer to the cooperation that we are trying to establish with like-minded states in order to promote what we have been advocating all along: A rules-based order, especially in the maritime areas,” he said.
He added Marcos would also be on a working visit to Los Angeles from Nov. 17 to 18.
Jose said the president would lead a Philippine economic briefing and have several meetings with executives of top US companies.
During Apec, Jose pointed out the president would push for “financing a just, sustainable, and affordable energy transition through partnerships with the business sector.”
Jose added Marcos would emphasize the need to invest more in clean energy to preserve and protect the environment while ensuring that we are energy-secure and sufficient.
“With our experience from the COVID-19 pandemic, the president wishes to push for deeper cooperation in health and modernizing health systems and to ensure that our health professionals are recognized and provided with the welfare they deserve,” Jose said.
The president’s visit to the United States will be his 18th trip abroad since he assumed office on June 30 last year.