MANILA (UPDATE)—President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. sought stronger Manila-Washington ties as he met with US President Joe Biden in the White House.
In his opening remarks at their meeting on Tuesday early morning (Manila time), Marcos Jr. said the Philippines and the United States need to seek ways to strengthen the alliance and partnership of both countries.
"Beyond that, there are also issues, geopolitical issues that make the region (where) the Philippines is, possibly, arguably the most complicated geopolitical situation in the world right now," the Philippine leader said.
"And so it is only natural that ... 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," he said.
Marcos Jr. also emphasized that ties between Manila and Washington can help promote peace in the region and across the globe.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr meets US President Joe Biden in the White House on May 1, 2023 (Washington D.C. time). MPC Pool
Biden, meanwhile, reaffirmed the United States' ironclad commitment to the defense of the Philippines, including in the South China Sea, assuring the US will continue to support the modernization of the Philippine military.
"Our countries not only share strong partnership. We share deep friendship, one that has been enriched by millions of Filipino-Americans and communities all across the United States," he said.
“We’re tackling climate change, we’re accelerating our countries’ chances… and we’re standing up for our shared democratic values and workers’ rights… and together we’re deepening our economic cooperation,” he also told Marcos.
Marcos Jr's trip to Washington D.C. was met by a protest rally outside the US President's official residence.
Manila and Washington agreed in February to expand cooperation in "strategic areas" of the Philippines as they seek to counter Beijing's growing assertiveness over self-governed Taiwan and China's construction of bases in the South China Sea.
On April 3, the Philippines announced 4 new sites for the US military to use under EDCA: Naval Base Camilo Osias in Santa Ana, Cagayan, Lal-lo Airport in Lal-lo, Cagayan, Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela, and Balabac Island in Palawan.
—Reports from Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News