By ALFRED G. GABOT, Editor in Chief

SINGAPORE/MANILA — After successful inaugural state visits in Indonesia and Singapore, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. is slated to fly again, this time in New York, to address the United Nations General Assembly on September 20 and invite investors to the Philippines.

At the sidelines of the UN state leaders conference, Marcos is expected to meet and talk with some world leaders and possibly visit the White House in Washington D.C. for a dialogue with United States President Joseph Biden Jr.

It is expected that Marcos will meet and address the Filipino community in New York, New Jersey and nearby areas, according to Malacanang sources.

The Marcos-Biden dialogue has not been officially confirmed, however, as of press time, and the talks may not happen. Sources at the Department of Foreign Affairs though indicated that the meeting of the two leaders will likely take place.

Marcos was invited to the White House by President Biden as early as during his inauguration on  June 30 where he sent a top delegation led by the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, US Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, who carried a letter of congratulations and invitation from the United States  President.

Subsequent visits by other US officials like Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated the Biden invitation.

Philippine Ambassador to US Jose Manuel Romualdez, a cousin of the  President, is leading Philippine officials in preparing for the Marcos visit in US.

Romualdez confirmed in an interview that in a letter written by Biden to Marcos, the former has extended an invitation for Marcos and his family to “come to Washington.”

 “This is the first time he (Marcos) will be addressing the United Nations, which is basically introducing himself to the world in the Western world, especially and, and secondly, to have more economic business meetings that will bring in investments into the Philippines,” Romualdez said.

While in the US, Marcos is also scheduled to meet with various American business groups and investors who would like to expand operations in the Philippines, the ambassador said.

“His main thrust in relations with other countries is to have more economic activity so we planned out to have several meetings with business councils and several groups and also individual meetings with potential companies that would like to invest or already invested in the Philippines,” Romualdez said.

 Marcos returned on April 7 to Manila and announced that P804 billion worth of investments were pledged during his state visits in Indonesia and Singapore.
Speaking  at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Marcos said the Philippines signed a total of 10 letters of intent and 12 memoranda of understanding in key sectors such as energy, e-commerce, technology, and agriculture.

He said he also witnessed the signing of several letters of intent and memoranda of understanding from 22 Indonesian and Singaporean investors.

“These investments if we put it all together value 14.36 billion US dollars or P804.78 billion Philippine pesos. This will support our country’s economic recovery efforts and create more jobs for Filipinos here in our country,” Marcos said.

“I actually have a more detailed breakdown of those numbers which we will include in the final report of the delegation to the country,” he added.

He also emphasized the importance of improving bilateral relations amid a time of “geopolitical turmoil and uncertainty.”
In Singapore, Marcos and officials of the city-state reiterated the call for peace and stability in the region as they tackled issues hounding Myanmar and the South China Sea.
In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said President  Marcos exchanged views with President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on the developments in the global arena.
Also in Singapore, Marcos invited foreign businesses to put their investments in the Philippines, describing the country as “Asia’s fastest rising star.”
Marcos made the call at the Philippine Economic Briefing at the Shangri-La Hotel where he encouraged businesses to seize the opportunities in the country, as it welcomes the future with optimism grounded on a favorable investment policy environment, sound macro-economic fundamentals, and a strong and decisive economic team.

“We are presently on a steady path to a strong recovery from the pandemic and a robust economic expansion. In the next few years, our economy is expected to outperform our regional peers,” Marcos told the participants of the gathering led by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Department of Finance (DOF).

“My administration is committed to establishing an even more competitive business climate conducive to high-value investments,” he said.

The government is inviting strategic investors from the international community to take part in the Philippines’ economic resurgence, he said.

He also stressed that his administration will change the game through structural reforms to allow for wider participation in the country’s industries.

With the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act or CREATE, and the economic liberalization measures, the President pointed out that the government has expanded the space for foreign investments in joint venture opportunities for industry players employing cutting-edge technologies.

“The presentations of the economic team today will paint a clearer picture of what you can expect in the next six years. The Philippines welcomes your investments and looks forward to forging even stronger ties with the Singaporean business community,” Marcos said.

The President also told the participants that his government is implementing an eight-point socio-economic agenda that underscores its commitment through broad-based job creation, expansion of digital infrastructure, and promotion of research and development in the country.

At the same time, he said his government is pursuing the country’s first-ever medium-term fiscal framework, which will widen its fiscal space to allow for continued investments in public infrastructure and human capital development.

High investments in public infrastructure will be expanded by leveraging the government’s public-private partnerships mechanisms, he said.

He likewise vowed to improve interconnectivity by fast-tracking the development of railways systems, modernizing airports and seaports, and enhancing road infrastructures.

Marcos state visit to Indonesia yielded at least four agreements in the fields of defense, cultural cooperation, and economy.

The signed deals were presented to Marcos and  President Widodo after their bilateral meeting at the Teratai Hall of the Bogor Presidential Palace in West Java, Indonesia.

The first deal presented was the plan of action between Indonesia and the Philippines from 2022 to 2027.

It was presented by Minister for Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi and Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo.

In a press briefing later, Press Secretary Rose Beatrix “Trixie” Cruz-Angeles said the comprehensive document outlines bilateral programs and commitments for the next five years on a wide range of areas of cooperation such as security, defense, border management, counter-terrorism, economics, energy, maritime, culture, education, labor, health, and consular matters, among others.

Also signed was a memorandum of understanding on cultural cooperation, and was presented by Marsudi and Manalo.

Angeles noted that the deal would enhance the cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the Philippines and Indonesia and promote a better understanding and appreciation of the countries’ remarkable cultures.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Defense Prabowo Subianto and Department of Defense Undersecretary and Officer-in-Charge Jose Faustino Jr. presented an agreement on cooperative activities in the field of defense and security.

In Jakarta, Marcos  said the country would tap Indonesia for fertilizer supply after his “very productive” meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

“We talked about the possibility of them supplying us with fertilizer with Urea of Indonesia,” Marcos said.

Marcos earlier said his administration is trying to look at non-traditional sources of fertilizer supply and expressed willingness to pursue government-to-government deals to avail cheaper fertilizers.

Meanwhile, the chief executive said that Indonesia has agreed to export coal to the country.

“And there was a time a few weeks back where they stopped export of coal. Nakiusap tayo sa kanila at sinama  naman tayo doon sa listahan na bibigyan nila. Mag-export sila ng coal,” Marcos added.

The President also told the media that the “most extensive subject matter” in the discussions was public-private partnerships (PPP).

“Because nandito talaga tayo para i-encourage ‘yung PPPs with the Philippine government,” he said. “Many of  them are already actually involved in the Philippines. So sabi nila palalakihin nila ‘yung kanilang involvement.  Gusto nila mag-expand.”

Marcos said he also asked for Indonesia’s assistance in agriculture, specifically in the fisheries sector.

“Pati ‘yung nagpatulong ako sa fisheries, kasi obsessed ako doon sa Pilipinas nag-iimport ng galunggong eh.  Hindi ko talaga matanggap ‘yan eh,” he said. “So I asked for help because matibay ang fisheries nila. So sabi  ko we can exchange delegations,” he said.  (With reports of Claire Morales True and Lolly Rivera Acosta)