WASHINGTON — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and US President Joe Biden held one-on-one talks at the White House on Tuesday, where both leaders committed to further strengthen the alliance of the US and the Philippines.
During the meeting held at the Oval Office, the US President told Marcos Jr. that amid geopolitical challenges, he cannot think of a better partner than the Philippines, with whom the United States shares a “deep friendship.”
“Our countries not only share strong partnership. We share deep friendship, one that has been enriched by millions of Filipino-Americans and the communities all across the United States,” Biden told Marcos.
Biden also affirmed Washington’s commitment to the defense of the Philippines, including the South China Sea and assured that their continued support for the modernization of the Philippine military.
This comes amid shared concerns over China’s continued aggression in the West Philippine Sea, the most recent of which is the harassment of a maritime patrol vessel of the Philippines by the Chinese Coast Guard, which caused a near collision at the Ayungin Shoal.
Biden also announced that he would send a “first of its kind” presidential trade and investment mission to the Philippines.
Marcos Jr., for his part, raised the need to find ways to strengthen alliances and partnership in the post-pandemic economy.
“Beyond that, there are also issues, geopolitical issues that make the region… the Philippines is, possibly, arguably the most complicated geopolitical situation in the world right now,” he said.
Marcos Jr. said it is but natural for the Philippines to “look to its sole treaty partner in the world, to strengthen and to redefine the relationship that we have and the roles that we play in the face of these… tensions that we see now around the South China Sea and the Asia-Pacific and Indo-Pacific region.”
“We have many things that are new that need to be assessed and again our role as partners in the world…in our worldview of what we are hoping for the future of peace, not only in the Asia-Pacific and Indo-Pacific region but in the whole world,” he continued.
According to Malacañang, the two leaders discussed security, education, and other initiatives during the meeting, which was then followed by expanded bilateral talks attended by key Philippine and US cabinet officials.
A security analyst said Marcos' meeting with Biden and other US officials was about sending a message to China.
“The message that we are seeing right now is that Manila is committed to its treaty alliance with Washington, and at the same time we wanted to tell China that we subscribe to maritime rules-based norms and to institutional norms,” Professor Chester Cabalza said.
“These are very crucial for the Philippines--in a way, that we are doing a balancing, a delicate balancing act as of the moment. So it sends also a signal to China that we could nurture our role as a middle power for these two superpowers,” he told ANC’s Rundown.
Other Philippine officials present in the meeting included National Security Adviser Eduardo Ano; Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.; Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Antonio Yulo Loyzaga; Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual; Department of Information and Communications Technology Secretary Uvan John Uy; Justice Secretary Jesus Crisoin Remulla; Migrant Workers Department Secretary Maria Susana “Toots” Ople and Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo.
This is Biden and Marcos Jr’s second meeting, following their bilateral talks September last year at the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.