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MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. left for San Francisco, California, on Tuesday night, November 14, to participate in the 2023 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit and go on working visits to Los Angeles and Honolulu in Hawaii.
Aboard the presidential plane PR001, the Chief Executive will be embarking on a half-day flight to San Francisco. He is scheduled to arrive there the same day. California is 16 hours behind Manila.
“I bring with me your hopes and aspirations for a peaceful and prosperous Asia-Pacific region where we live,” Marcos said in his departure speech on Tuesday.
“Our APEC work has been focused to prioritize and secure beneficial trade and investment, quality and green jobs, and human development and poverty alleviation,” he added.
Marcos will join other leaders of APEC member economies in San Francisco for the 30th installment of the annual summit. The leaders’ meeting will take place from November 15 to 17, but senior finance officials and ministers held preparatory talks from November 11 to 14.
Founded in 1989 as an informal dialogue group, APEC has grown to include 21 member-economies, including the Philippines. Because it groups economies rather than nations, the Chinese-ruled Hong Kong and the self-ruled Taiwan are also allowed to participate in the annual meeting.
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said, “This year’s APEC theme aligns with the economic agenda of the administration of President Marcos Jr., the Philippine Development Plan and the administration’s 8-point socioeconomic agenda and visage an economic transformation for a prosperous, inclusive and resilient Philippines by prioritizing the creation of more quality and green jobs.”
Marcos will join other leaders in San Francisco amid continued Chinese harassment of Philippine ships in the West Philippine Sea. Chinese President Xi Jinping will participate in the the APEC Summit.
Hawaii stop, Filipino community meeting
In San Francisco, Marcos is set to deliver a keynote address on “intentional equity in sustainability” at the APEC CEO Summit, one of the side events during the week-long gathering. He is also set to meet with business leaders and join panels on the sidelines of the summit.
During his US trip, Marcos will visit the United States Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii, which is the US military’s biggest unified geographic combatant command.
Soldiers under the Indo-Pacific Command usually train with Philippine counterparts during the biggest annual military exercise between Manila and Washington.
Marcos’ visit there is symbolic, signaling his attempt to further strengthen ties with the US, a treaty ally which has condemned Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea.
Marcos’ return to Hawaii is also notable because it marks his public return to the island state that accommodated his family after Filipinos kicked their family out of the Philippines during the February 1986 People Power Revolution.
Hawaii is where his father – the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos – died in 1989. The Marcos family stayed in Hawaii for five years, returning to the Philippines in 1991 after the Corazon Aquino government allowed them to face the cases against them back home.
Since then, the Marcoses have successfully reentered Philippine politics, rehabilitating their image through a decades-long project capped by Marcos Jr.’s landslide presidential election victory in 2022.
Marcos is scheduled to visit the Filipino community in Honolulu. Before flying to Hawaii, he is expected to make a stopover at Los Angeles for a meet-and-greet with the Filipino diaspora there.
This is Marcos’ 10th trip for the year, and 16th since he became president.
It’s also his third trip to the US since becoming president – the first in September 2022 for the United Nations General Assembly in New York, and the second in May this year for an official working visit that included a visit to the White House in Washington DC.
Marcos has gained a reputation for being a jet-setting chief executive, with nearly P400 million spent in international travel in 2022 alone. For 2024, his office is seeking P1.4 billion for trips and state visits.
Malacañang has defended the trips, saying they generate investments that will speed up the country’s economic recovery after the pandemic. – with reports from Bea Cupin/Rappler.com