MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday said the Philippines and its allies can bring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region if “partnerships are based on mutual trust and respect for one another as sovereign equals.”
Marcos Jr. gave the statement during his arrival ceremony, where he reported his activities and achievements to several Cabinet members who welcomed his return to the country after a 6-day trip to the United States.
“Together with the US, our oldest and only treaty ally, and our growing network of other partners, we will be able to bring peace, stability, [and] prosperity to the Indo-Pacific Region, as long as our partnerships are based on mutual trust and respect for one another as sovereign equals,” he said.
“And that our actions are anchored in international law, including the UNCLOS and the 2016 Arbitral Award,” he added.
While Marcos Jr. made no mention of China in his arrival speech, the President had criticized Beijing for its “persistent, unlawful threats" in the West Philippine Sea during his speaking engagement at the Daniel K Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) in Hawaii.
Before returning to the Philippines, Marcos Jr. visited the headquarters of the United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM), which oversees all US military activities in the Indo-Pacific region, which includes 36 nations, 14 time zones and more than 50 percent of the global population.
He also had a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, where he urged the Chinese leader to “go back to the situation where both Chinese and Filipino fishermen were fishing together in these waters.”
Despite China’s illegal incursions in the West Philippine Sea, Marcos earlier said that the Manila is unlikely to sever ties with Beijing, saying that “the problems in the South China Sea "should not be the defining element of our relationship."