MANILA (UPDATE) — It is possible for President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to have a bilateral visit to Australia on "a mutually agreed date," the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Thursday.
During his speech after his meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said the President would have the opportunity to also visit the country in March next year.
March 2024 will mark the 50th anniversary of the dialogue relations between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Australia.
“We expect that high-level engagements will continue as the Philippines and Australia work harder to strengthen our cooperation in quite a number of practical areas of mutual interest," Manalo said.
"A bilateral visit is also possible at a mutually agreed date,” Manalo added.
Wong is in Manila for a four-day official visit upon the invitation of Manalo to discuss "further strengthening the Comprehensive Partnership between the Philippines and Australia.”
MAINTAIN 'CLOSE COMMUNICATION': MARCOS TO AUSTRALIA
A photo from the social media page of Marcos, Jr. showed the Australian official went to Malacañang for a courtesy visit.
In a statement released by the Presidential Communications Office, Marcos said it was important that the Philippines and Australia maintain "close communication" to present a "common plan to meet not only with ASEAN but all member states around the Indo-Pacific."
This, as partnerships with other countries have become "key to maintaining the peace not only in the Asia Pacific but the Indo-Pacific region."
“And that I think is probably the key element in many of the relationships that we have not only between Australia and the Philippines but also of the countries around the Indo-Pacific region," he said during Wong's courtesy call.
The President added that aside from security ties, the two countries could also focus on economic cooperation.
“The very important partner in the transformation of our economy is the private sector. And therefore, we welcome any contact with the private sector because we feel that it is impossible for the government to do it all alone,” said the Philippine leader.
“And in that regard, we have now changed many of our regulations, many of our laws to encourage private partnerships with the government, joint venture partnerships with corporations, and every other possible combination of those elements," he added.
Marcos said he was expecting a chance to meet Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, a leader he met during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) last year.
In May last year, after the elections, Marcos went on a private trip to Australia with his family for a "much-needed rest" after the presidential campaign and the elections.