Marcos’ Washington visit ‘truly historic’ for US-Philippine ties — US official
MANILA, Philippines — “Truly historic” was how United States Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Kritenbrink described on Wednesday Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s official four-day visit to Washington.
Kritenbrink, who is in charge of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, gave a third-person narrative on Marcos’ meeting with US President Joe Biden at the White House on Tuesday.
“We think that President Marcos’ visit to Washington was truly historic and represents a milestone for the bilateral alliance,” Kritenbrink said in an online press briefing.
Echoing the Biden administration, Kritenbrink noted that Marcos’ visit “reaffirms the longstanding ironclad alliance between the US and the Philippines, which has contributed to peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and around the world for more than 75 years.”
He pointed out that while this is Marcos’ first working trip to Washington since assuming office last year, it would be his second engagement with Biden after they briefly met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September.
Marcos is the first Philippine President to set foot in America’s seat of power in over a decade.
“It is quite remarkable that those two meetings have taken place during President Marcos’ first year in office,” Kritenbrink said.
The US-Philippine alliance, according to the US official, “delivers benefits for both of our peoples, and it remains absolutely rock solid.”
“I think, as you may have noticed yesterday at the top of their meeting in the Oval Office, President Biden and President Marcos have both underscored that our alliance has continued to evolve as we face the challenges of this new century,” he said.
Kritenbrink noted that among the issues raised in the Biden-Marcos meeting were the two countries’ cooperation on food security, climate change, renewable energy, trade and investment, and defense cooperation and developments in the contested South China Sea.
The Philippines has made significant moves to improve its alliance with the US since Marcos assumed the presidency – a distinct turnaround from the country’s relationship with the global power during the time of former President Rodrigo Duterte.
Enhanced defense cooperation is among the most controversial aspects of the ramped-up US-Philippine ties, especially as it comes against the backdrop of flaring tensions involving the two longtime allies and China.
The Philippines has been entangled in a decades-long territorial dispute with China over the latter’s unrelenting encroachment in the West Philippine Sea–waters within the country’s exclusive economic zone.
The US, meanwhile, is among the most influential international backers of self-ruled Taiwan, which China threatens to reclaim as part of its territory.
Expanding the US-Philippine defense pact has also seemingly angered Beijing, as the Chinese Embassy in Manila previously warned that doing so may drag the country into its conflict with the US over Taiwan and threaten regional peace and stability.