Harris, Marcos vow to boost partnerships

Mr. Marcos and his wife, First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos, are greeted by US Vice President Kamala Harris and US Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff at the Number One Observatory Circle at the US Naval Observatory in Washington D.C. before their meeting.

Washington—President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and US Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday vowed to boost mutually beneficial partnerships between Manila and Washington in a wide range of areas, such as digital inclusion and a clean energy economy.

The two leaders made the commitment in a meeting at the US Naval Observatory in Washington, DC.

President Marcos thanked Harris, who visited Manila last November, for “laying the groundwork” for his meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House last Monday.

“I think that has given us the very attractive opportunity to continue to strengthen that relationship between our two countries in the face, in the context of all of the difficulties and complexities, the rising tensions in our region and the world. And once again, we turn to our American partners, our only treaty partner in the world,” Mr. Marcos said.

The President also admitted he was “as concerned as you could be” with China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea even as Harris pledged her country’s continued cooperation with the Philippines in securing the vital waterway.

“After all the different cycles as in any friendship… I was telling (US) Secretary (of State Anthony) Blinken yesterday, like any friendship we go through many cycles… We’re very, very happy to be here, to get this opportunity to speak with you and to have spoken with your President (Biden),” he added.

The US Vice President lauded Mr. Marcos for his leadership and effort to give priority “around our mutual prosperity and security.”

“During my visit to the Philippines, we discussed many issues including the importance of a clean energy economy. You and I share a passion for that… As well as issues that relate to food security and what we must do around digital inclusion,” said Harris, who was accompanied by her husband, US Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff.

“And on the issue of security of course, the work that our countries are doing together as it relates to the South China Sea, as it relates to what we must do in terms of continuing to work together through our Coast Guards,” she added.

Last year, Harris traveled to Puerto Princesa, Palawan, where she met with residents, civil society leaders, and Philippine Coast Guard officials. It was described as a historic visit, as the US VP was the highest-ranking American official ever to visit Palawan.

Joining President Marcos in meeting Harris were First Lady Louise Araneta-Marcos, House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez, Mrs. Maria Lourdes Romualdez, and Ilocos Norte Rep. Sandro Marcos.

On his way to have coffee with Harris and Emhoff, a reporter asked President Marcos how concerned he was “with the continued provocation made by China” in the region.

“As concerned as you could possibly be,” Mr. Marcos replied. “It is one of the major issues that we have to face back home.”

Mr. Marcos believes cooperation with the US top officials can get him closer to protecting the Philippines amid the tensions in the region.

“Well, cooperation with the United States certainly is just something that we are building upon that has been going on for many, many, many decades,” President Marcos said. “And we just keep going.” Vince Lopez

On his way to Washington, President Marcos told reporters he had been in touch with some Chinese officials over the near-collision in waters off the Spratly Islands between a Chinese coast guard vessel and a Philippine coast guard patrol boat (see the banner story – Editors).

Images showed that the Chinese vessel was much larger than the Philippine Coast Guard boat.

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