Kamala Harris

US VP Kamala Harris arrives in the Philippines

Sofia Tomacruz

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US VP Kamala Harris arrives in the Philippines

ARRIVAL. US Vice President Kamala Harris arrives in the Philippines on November 20, 2022.


United States Vice President Kamala Harris is the highest-ranking American official to visit the Philippines under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. so far

MANILA, Philippines – United States Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in the Philippines on Sunday, November 20, marking her first vice-presidential trip to Washington’s oldest ally in Asia.

Harris, whose visit stretches until Tuesday, November 22, traveled to the Southeast Asian country as part of efforts from the Biden administration to convince the region that it is a “better partner” for the Indo-Pacific.

US VP Kamala Harris arrives in the Philippines

Her trip comes on the heels of President Joe Biden’s travel to the region, where he met with key leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. 

“The Vice President will make clear that the United States has an enduring commitment to Southeast Asia,” a senior administration official said in a call with reporters on Wednesday, November 16.

For the Philippines, Harris’ visit is the highest-ranking so far by a US official under the Marcos administration, after Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to the country in August. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman also met with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in early June, shortly before Marcos’ term began.

While in Manila, Harris is set to first meet Vice President Sara Duterte and then hold a bilateral meeting with Marcos on Monday, November 21.

During talks with Marcos, Harris will tackle steps to both strengthen the two treaty allies’ security alliance and discuss prospects to deepen economic partnership. Boosting economic ties is of particular interest to the Marcos administration, which had declared early on that it wanted to increase trade with the US, aside from aid. 

US VP Kamala Harris arrives in the Philippines

“We anticipate there will be deliverables and new initiatives on this front, as well, related to the digital economy and upskilling and accelerating the transition to clean energy,” the senior US official said.

Reuters reported that Marcos and Harris will also discuss Taiwan, as well as the recent bilateral meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden.

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What to expect: US Vice President Harris’ visit to PH

What to expect: US Vice President Harris’ visit to PH

Unlike past trips by American officials, Harris will leave the capital city of Manila for Puerto Princesa, Palawan, in a move that seeks to demonstrate Washington’s commitment to back Manila in its dispute with China in the South China Sea.

“This is another historic visit, as the Vice President is the highest-ranking US official ever to visit Palawan,” a senior official told reporters.

Asked what message Harris’ trip would send to China, the senior US official said: “China can take the message it wants. The message to the region is that the United States is a member of the Indo-Pacific, we are engaged, we’re committed to the security of our allies in the region.” – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.