Two Marcos state visits set
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s first foreign trips will be to Indonesia and Singapore, possibly followed by an appearance at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, which will convene in New York on September 13.
Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles confirmed that the President will first visit Jakarta from September 4-6 and then proceed to Singapore from September 6-7. Both trips will be state visits.
Aside from the dates of the trips, Angeles could not provide other details, but officials had earlier said that Marcos himself decided which countries he would visit first.
The country’s diplomatic ties with Indonesia date back to 1949, shortly after both countries gained their independence, but the people-to-people ties are documented to have been pre-Hispanic.
The Laguna copperplate inscription, the oldest calendar-dated document found in the Philippines, was made in the year 900 A.D. and documents economic, cultural and political connections with the Javanese Kingdom of Medang as well as the Srivijaya empire.
The Javanese Nagarakretagama manuscript, written in 1365 during the Majapahit empire, mentioned several pre-Hispanic states in the Philippines, including Selurong (Manila) and Solot (Sulu).
The town of Ternate in Cavite is named after Ternate Island in the Moluccas islands, home of the numerous Indonesian traders who migrated to Cavite.
Aside from their ethno-linguistic links, the Philippines and Indonesia have never had any serious dispute and amicably settled a boundary delimitation in the Sulawesi Sea, even if it took more than a decade to finalize in 2014.
Bilateral trade amounts to some $5 billion, with the balance in favor of Indonesia, which is also the Philippines’ largest supplier of coal.
The country’s ties with Singapore is much younger, starting only in 1969, after Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew settled acrimonious differences with Malaysia.
Lee himself was highly respected by Filipinos until his death in 2015, even if he once criticized what he saw as Filipinos’ lack of discipline and propensity for disorder because of their “exuberant democracy.”
But today, Singapore hosts more than 200,000 Filipino workers, most of whom are trained professionals and skilled workers and not domestic helpers, like in other countries.
As for the trip to the United States, Angeles said the details were “still being worked out” but said the President was keen to attend the UN session.
Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez told the Inquirer on August 8 that the President would speak before the United Nations General Assembly on September 20, but the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has not yet confirmed that date.
The DFA, however, said they were also arranging for a meeting between Marcos and US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the UN session.
PH envoy hoping Marcos meets Biden at UN assembly in September
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