Bongbong Marcos tells PH envoys: Go find foreign partners but observe neutrality
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has instructed Filipino ambassadors to look for non-traditional partners in terms of trade, security, and defense, saying that the country needs to cope with the changes that the pandemic has brought.
However, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said on Wednesday that Marcos clarified that the Philippines should remain independent and neutral in terms of foreign policy, which means not siding with the views of other countries.
“We do not subscribe to any notion of a bipolar world . We only side, of course, to the Philippines, not to the US, not to Beijing, not to Moscow. That’s very much being independent in what we do,” Marcos said.
PCO said that Marcos met with recently appointed chiefs of mission and ambassadors in Malacañang earlier. Among the envoys present are the following:
- Chief of Mission Carlos Deymek Sorreta, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland
- Ambassador Henry Sicad Bensurto Jr. (Republic of Turkiye)
- Ambassador Renato Pedro Oabel Villa (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)
- Ambassador Raul Salavarria Hernandez (Sultanate of Oman)
- Ambassador Paul Raymund Pasion Cortez (Portuguese Republic)
- Ambassador Joel Francisco Ignacio (Republic of India)
- Ambassador Maria Angela Abrera Ponce (Malaysia)
“We are constantly now- after all the changes that have been imposed upon us, like the pandemic economy and the world situation, looking for what we sometimes referred to as non-traditional partners in trades, in any kind, in security and defense issues,” Marcos said.
“All these things, we are always looking for partners,” he added.
The Chief Executive also urged the ambassadors to be open in discussing with him any opportunities that can be beneficial to the country.
“I’m sure you have heard that we are prioritizing agriculture, energy, all of the infrastructure development, and digitalization. Now, if there are opportunities that would come up, you should explore them and if they’re promising enough, then we’ll take it up. We’ll try to see if something can come up. There’s no harm in trying and kung anuman ang mangyari (whatever happens), at least we tried,” he said.
“So let us keep looking at those areas. And also what I found many times, you go there and you talk about agri and something else comes up,” he added.
Marcos has maintained that his administration would implement an independent foreign policy, saying that the Philippines would be a friend to all and an enemy to none. Experts however believe that such a vision would be hard to implement, as the Philippines cannot be neutral.
But within a year of his presidency, Marcos was able to restructure ties with the United States (US), which was seen by experts to have weakened under his predecessor, former president Rodrigo Duterte — who openly preferred ties with China rather than the western superpower.
This was evidenced by the identification of four additional sites for the Philippines’ Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US.
Marcos clarified though that reviving ties with the US does not mean closing doors to China. Earlier this year, the President visited China for a state visit — marking the Asian powerhouse as the first country he visited in 2023.