By Claire Morales True, Managing Editor
MANILA – If plans will not miscarry, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. will be in the United States late next month to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York and meet heads of states on the sidelines.
The 77th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 77) is scheduled to open on Tuesday, September 13 and ends on September 27, 2022 under the theme, “A watershed moment: transformative solutions to interlocking challenges.” A day before the end of the session, there will be a high-level plenary meeting to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. On September 19, the UNGA will hold a summit on education where Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte has been invited.
Philippine Ambassador to the Washington D.C. Jose Manuel Romualdez disclosed preparations are under way for the Marcos state visit, adding this may include Marcos meeting US President Joseph Biden Jr.
Marcos’ participation in the UN General Assembly in September is “more or less confirmed”, according to Romualdez, who is the president’s relative.
He said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is already fixing Marcos’ schedule based on his recent meeting with Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo.
Marcos was given the assurance that he will have “full diplomatic immunity” as head of state, despite a long-standing contempt order that had prevented him from entering the US.
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman earlier noted that Marcos can travel to the United States without being arrested over a $353-million contempt order against his family in connection with a human rights case.
Romualdez said in an online media forum which was reported by various Manila media like ABS-CBN that plans are afoot for Marcos to hold several bilateral meetings with other heads of states in New York.
Romualdez also reported that Marcos has started preparing a speech for the event as preparations are ongoing for his trip.
“This is the first time he 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,” he said.
Marcos’ main thrust in relationships with other countries, especially with the United States, is to have more economic activity, he added.
Romualdez said several meetings have been planned between Marcos and business councils and potential companies that would like to invest or expand their business operations in the country.
Later, Romualdez disclosed Marcos Jr. may visit Indonesia or Singapore for his first overseas trip before going to the US as the country’s leader, in keeping with the tradition among Philippine presidents of choosing any Southeast Asian nation for their first foreign trips.
Only last month, Marcos received the credentials of new US Ambassador to the Philippine MaryKay Loss Carlson
Carlson expressed hope that the US-Philippine ties will be “stronger” under his (Marcos) leadership.
In response, Marcos assured that the Philippines will continue to have strong relations with the United States (US) under his leadership.
“To echo your commitment that the United States is committed to the Philippines, the Philippines is also committed to the United States, committed to the continuing relationship between our two countries in the many dimensions and the multi-faceted nature of our relationship between the US and the Philippines,” Marcos told Carlson.
Marcos said the traditional ties between the Philippines and the US continue to be “deep and enduring.”
Early August, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured President Marcos that the US would honor its decades-old commitment to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).
Blinken made the assurance after he paid a courtesy call on the President at Malacañang Palace to strengthen the ties between the two countries.
“We’re committed to the Mutual Defense Treaty. We’re committed to working with you on shared challenges,” Blinken said. “What’s so striking to me, Mr. President, is that (we’re) working together on bilateral relations between us, we’re working together in the region, and increasingly, we’re working globally.”
Blinken described the US commitment to the MDT as “ironclad,” adding that “an armed attack on Philippine Armed Forces public vessels or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke the US Mutual Defense commitments under that treaty.”
On June 30, President Biden sent a US delegation to the Marcos inauguration led by Douglas Emhoff, husband of United States Vice President Kamala Harris.
The members of the US delegation to the Marcos inauguration included Heather Variava, Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim, US Embassy Manila; Rep. Bobby Scott, Chairman of the US House of Committee on Education and Labor; Nani Coloretti, Deputy Director, Office of Management and Budget;- Admiral James Winnefeld, Jr. (Ret.), former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff;- Edgard Kagan, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for East Asia and Oceania, National Security Council’ and Chantale Wong, US Director of the Asian Development Bank
The Philippine and the US established formal diplomatic relations on July 4, 1946, the day when the Philippines gained its status as an independent and sovereign state.
“Our alliance is a bedrock of our bond and our Mutual Defense Treaty and other agreements are at the heart of our commitment to help defend the Philippines’ sovereignty and independence. I arrive in Manila inspired by the bond between our great nations and devoted to making it even stronger,” Carlson told Marcos.
She said the US considers the Philippines as its “friend, ally, and partner” and is committed to strengthening its ties with the Marcos administration.
She also expressed optimism about the improvement and expansion of the two countries’ bilateral ties in terms of trade and investment.
“We look forward to working together to develop new trade and investment ties, partner on clean energy solutions, protect marine and terrestrial resources, and help tackle the climate crisis. You have a reliable partner in the United States on all these issues,” Carlson said