‘Strong and enduring’

NEW YORK CITY — The alliance between the United States of America and the Philippines is “strong and enduring,” no less than US President Joe Biden has assured Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in their first historic bilateral meeting.

“Today I met with President Marcos of the Philippines. Our nations’ relationship is rooted in democracy, common history, and people-to-people ties, including millions of Filipino-Americans who enrich our nation,” Biden wrote in a social media post on Thursday, 22 September, hours following his bilateral meeting with the Filipino leader.

During their laid-back but diplomatic meeting at Intercontinental New York Barclay Hotel, Biden acknowledged that despite “some rocky times” in the past, the relationship of the US with the Philippines “remains critical” considering its “very deep roots.”

“We have strong ties including millions of Filipino-Americans, who are very proud of their ancestry and desperately want us to continue to have a strong relationship.”

During the time that the American and Filipino press were allowed to hear the statements from the two leaders at the hotel’s assembly hall, Biden and Marcos appeared comfortable in their conversation and at times shared laughter with each other as they discussed matters of global importance.

“For decades, our alliance has strengthened both of us I believe and one of the things we want to talk about today is how we continue to strengthen them and work together on the things that have a greater concern to you,” Biden told Marcos.

Biden also thanked Marcos for the Philippine government’s immediate condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“And we also thank you for your position on the war against Ukraine and — by Russia. And how it’s impacting energy prices and food prices. And we are working very hard to be able to do something about that,” he said.

In his speech at the United Nations General Assembly, Biden called on allied nations to extend assistance to Ukraine in order for it to overcome the Russian attack and nuclear use threats, which he described as “reckless” and “irresponsible.”

Territorial dispute

In a readout of the meeting from the White House, it was stated that Biden “reaffirmed the US’ ironclad commitment to the defense of the Philippines.”

The American leader also brought up the issue of the South China Sea, stressing his belief that “international waters” must be “respected.”

“The leaders discussed the situation in the South China Sea and underscored their support for freedom of navigation and overflight and the peaceful resolution of disputes,” the White House said.

Manila has a long-standing maritime dispute with Beijing in the West Philippine Sea. Despite the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling in favor of the Philippines, the country continues to be locked in a maritime dispute with China.

Beijing lays claim to over 80 percent of the South China Sea, including the WPS which is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.


Moreover, Biden praised the Bangui windmills in Ilocos Norte, the home province of President Bongbong Marcos.

“I was impressed with the work you did on windmills and a whole range of other things,” he said.

Biden said he is “desperately interested” in making sure that he and Marcos will “do a lot” of economic activities “together.”

As Ilocos Norte governor from 1998 to 2007, Marcos supported the NorthWind Power Development Corporation in the construction of an electric power-producing wind farm in Bangui Bay in 2005, a project of Ayala Corporation through its subsidiary ACEN Corp.

Biden said he looks forward to partnering with the Philippines in harnessing renewable energy.

Renewable energy is among the key priorities of the Marcos administration, with an aim to reduce electricity costs to unburden household consumers and entice foreign investors.

‘Partner, ally, friend’

For his part, Marcos reaffirmed that the Philippines will remain a “partner, ally, and friend” of the US and hailed the “100-plus-year-old” relationship between the Western nation and the Southeast Asian country.

“We are your partners, we are your allies, we are your friends. And in like fashion, we have always considered the United States our partner, our ally, and our friend,” Marcos said.

The Philippine leader recognized the role of the US in maintaining peace in Southeast Asia.

“We continue to look to the United States for that continuing partnership and the maintenance of peace in our region,” Marcos said.

“In terms of the geopolitical issues that we face in this day and age, the primary consideration of the Philippines and the guiding principle of the Philippine foreign policy is to encourage peace,” he added.

The President expressed hope that they can discuss the roles that the Philippines and the US will play “together and individually” in maintaining peace “despite all the complexities.”

“We feel that we are especially fortunate because we have a very strong foundation of a very long relationship and strong relationships on various facets not only political, not only diplomatic but also economic. And of course, there is the very large Filipino population that has chosen to live and make their lives here in the United States and have been very successful,” he said.

Finally, Marcos thanked the US for the “massive help” that it extended at the height of the pandemic.

“We like to thank the United States for the massive help that we received during the pandemic with the provision of up to 35… almost 36 million doses of vaccines very earlier on… and for that we are very, very grateful,” he noted.

Their bilateral meeting came on the sidelines of the UNGA.

Closed door

After giving their press statements for not more than 7 minutes, the media was asked to leave the assembly hall immediately so the two leaders and their delegation can proceed with their closed-door meeting.

The official Philippine delegation in the bilateral meeting were: House Speaker Martin Romualdez, Ambassador Jose Manuel ‘Babe’ Romualdez, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, and presidential son, Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand Alexander ‘Sandro’ Marcos.

During the private meeting, the White House said Biden and Marcos discussed opportunities to expand bilateral cooperation on a wide range of issues, including energy security, climate action, and infrastructure.

“The leaders also discussed Russia’s war against Ukraine and its implications for energy prices and food security, as well as ASEAN matters, the crisis in Burma, and the importance of respect for human rights,” it added.

In a press conference with reporters here, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz Angeles said out of “several requests” for a meeting, Biden only granted the invitation of Marcos.

“We understand that a lot of requests have been made to the US President, that it is significant that he spoke only with Marcos on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly,” she said.

She also said that Biden met with one other head of state on the same day, but noted that it was a postponed schedule.

The official website of the White House, however, showed that Biden met with other world leaders like United Kingdom Prime Minister Liz Truss, France President Emmanuel Macron, South Korea President Yoon Suk Yeol, and Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida after their participation in the UNGA on 21 September.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *