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JAKARTA, Indonesia – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is set to visit several other American states in November 2023, following his participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC) in San Franscisco, California.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta, Manila’s top envoy to Washington DC Ambassador Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez said the embassy was arranging visits to another state in the West Coast and potentially, Honolulu in Hawaii.
Marcos, said Romualdez, will be in San Francisco for the APEC Leaders’ Meeting, which begins on November 15 and ends on the 18th.
“The President plans to visit another city on the West Coast, and then from there possibly go to other — maybe, we’re still trying to work out a short stay, a short visit to Honolulu. There’s a large Filipino community there. But all of these schedules are being worked out,” he explained.
Honolulu happens to be the city where the Marcos clan spent their exile, following the EDSA People Power Revolution of 1986. Marcos’ father, his namesake the late dictator, died in Honolulu three and a half years after they fled Malacañang.
Yet, not even four decades later, it’s Marcos Jr. who is now the chief executive.
Marcos visited the United States twice as president in less than a year in office. His first trip was to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly in September 2022, then to Washington DC for an official working visit in May 2023. Both New York and DC are in the East Coast.
While in the US, Marcos is also set to hold meetings with potential investors, said Romualdez. The President is also keen on following up discussions in previous meetings, including those on modular nuclear power plants.
Marcos has been quite the jet-setter in just a little over a year as chief executive. He has travelled to Indonesia thrice, Singapore twice, the US twice, and to Cambodia, Thailand, Belgium, China, Japan, Switzerland, and Malaysia once since assuming office in June 2022.
He’s been criticized for these trips, which, according to state auditors, have led to a sharp increase in spending. Of P403 million used for travel in 2022, P392.3 million was spent on international travel.
Malacañang has defended the increase in spending by saying that “the country and the public, in general, will benefit immensely from the President’s participation in these engagements.”
Marcos himself has asked critics to not look at the cost, but the supposed “return on investment” of these trips. Yet, more than a year since his first state visits, most these trips have yet to result in actual investments outside of pledges or mere promises.
For 2024, the Office of the President wants P1.408 billion for local and foreign missions, including state visits.
The President will be in Jakarta until September 7, or the day the ASEAN Summit comes to a close. – Rappler.com