The Manila Times : Marcos, Biden vow stronger ties

By Catherine S. Valente and Bernadette E. Tamayo | The Manila Times

PRESUMPTIVE president Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and United States President Joe Biden have agreed to further strengthen the ties between their countries following Marcos' landslide victory in Monday's election.

Biden and Marcos spoke by phone around 9 a.m. (Manila time), discussing the strengthening of ties in trade and diplomacy, as well as their common interest in democracy, self-determination and economic recovery.

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Marcos assured Biden that "the Philippines has always held the United States in high regard as a friend, an ally and a partner."

"I have also invited President Biden to my inaugural on June 30, which could further fortify the relationship of the two countries," the former senator said.

A statement released by the White House confirmed the conversation between the two leaders.

"President Biden underscored that he looks forward to working with the president-elect to continue strengthening the US-Philippine Alliance, while expanding bilateral cooperation on a wide range of issues, including the fight against Covid-19, addressing the climate crisis, promoting broad-based economic growth, and respect for human right," the White House said.

In an earlier statement, US State Secretary Anthony Blinken also congratulated Marcos and acknowledged the two countries' relations that are "rooted in a long and interwoven history, shared values and interests, and people-to-people ties."

"As friends, partners and allies, we will continue to collaborate closely with the Philippines to promote respect for human rights and to advance a free and open, connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific region," Blinken said.'

Chinese President Xi Jinping also congratulated Marcos.

Xi said that he is ready to build a "good working relationship" with the Marcos.

The former senator received Xi's congratulatory message through Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian, who paid him a courtesy visit at his headquarters in Mandaluyong on Thursday.

"Delighted upon hearing your election as the President of the Republic of the Philippines, I would like to extend my sincere congratulations and best wishes," Xi said in his message.

"China and the Philippines are neighbors linked by the sea and partners that have stood together through hardships. In recent years, with the joint efforts from both sides, China-Philippines relationship has been strengthened and elevated, bringing benefits to the peoples of our two countries and making contributions to regional peace and stability," he added.

Xi said that China and the Philippines are "both at a critical stage of development, posing important opportunities and broad prospects for our bilateral relations."

But the Chinese president assured Marcos that "I highly value the development of China-Philippines relations."

"I am ready to build a good working relationship with you to preserve our good neighborliness, work for common development and deepen our Relationship of Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation so as to bring benefits to our two countries and two peoples," Xi said.

"May you enjoy good health and every success in your new undertakings. May the Republic of the Philippines be prosperous and its people enjoy happiness," he added.

The Chinese ambassador also congratulated Marcos, saying he is certain that under the next administration relations between Beijing and Manila will "become stronger."

In a message on Facebook, Huang said that with Marcos and Carpio-Duterte at the helm, "I am confident that a Philippines under the next administration will surely demonstrate unprecedented unity to rise above all challenges, to recover from the pandemic and to prosper."

"We look forward to working with the next Philippine government to upgrade our relationship of comprehensive strategic cooperation to new heights and bring more tangible benefits to the peoples of our two countries," he added.

With the counting of election returns almost complete, Marcos has secured over 56 percent of the vote and more than double the tally of his nearest rival, Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo.

Marcos, son of the late president Ferdinand Marcos Sr., has vowed to be a leader "for all Filipinos," his spokesman Victor Rodriguez said.

In his first press conference last Wednesday, Marcos said that 31 million Filipinos had "voted for unity."

"I am guided by that in the sense that I will continue to work for a government, an administration that gives voice to everyone who wants to help," he said.

"We may not agree, we may not do exactly as they say, whatever it is, it is not important who the messenger is, the important thing is going to be the message… we removed immediately what their political leanings have been, that's not going to be part of the discussion," he added.

Victor Rodriguez, Marcos' spokesman, said the Philippines' relationship with the US will improve under the Marcos presidency.

"As far as our relationship with the United States, under the administration of President-elect Bongbong, I assure you now that it will get better," Rodriguez said in an interview on the ABS-CBN News Channel.

He said the Philippines welcomes ties with all countries, and "we will not be exclusive to anyone."

Rodriguez also said that for Marcos, "the interest of the Filipino people and the national interest come first and will never be compromised, especially on our territorial integrity."

Marcos said he will "hit the ground running" as president.

He also said he was already assembling a Cabinet that will help steer the economy by pushing more infrastructure projects and jobs, as well as managing food and fuel prices in the country.

"As I'm sure you can imagine, the economic managers are going to be critical for the next several years because of the pandemic and the economic crisis. So that is something that we are looking at very carefully," he said.

He said he is keeping his original executive committee who helped him during the campaign, but they will also be talking to other specialists in each department.