Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

PRIMER: Marcos’ agenda in his trips to Australia in February, March 2024

Dwight de Leon

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PRIMER: Marcos’ agenda in his trips to Australia in February, March 2024

DEPARTURE. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos leave the Philippines for a state visit to Vietnam on January 28, 2024.

Presidential Communications Office

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will fly to Australia twice in the span of a week beginning February 28. His first trip will be a state visit, while the second one will be for his participation in a special ASEAN summit.

MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will visit Australia not once but twice within a seven-day period from the last week of February to the first week of March.

The first trip will be a state visit, while the second one will be for his participation in a special summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Here’s what you need to know.

Canberra, February 28 to 29

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Teresita Daza said on Tuesday, February 27, that Marcos will be in Canberra from Wednesday to Thursday, February 28 to 29, as a guest of the Australian government, upon the invitation of Australian Governor-General David Hurley.

He will deliver a speech before the Australian Parliament during his time there, joining other heads of state who have addressed the country’s legislative body in the past – the United States’ Barack Obama and George W. Bush, China’s Xi Jinping, Britain’s Tony Blair, Japan’s Shinzo Abe, and Indonesia’s Joko Widodo.

“He is expected to convey a shared vision and future with Australia under the ambit of the strategic partnership and informed by common history, long-standing people-to-people ties, and mutual adherence to the rules-based order and international law,” Daza said.

Marcos will also sit down with senior Australian officials to discuss defense and security, trade and investments, multilateral cooperation, and regional issues, according to a press release of the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) on Saturday, February 24.

“Similarly, the visit will witness the signing of new agreements in areas of common interest to complement the already robust cooperation with Australia and expand engagements for mutual capacity-building,” the PCO release also read.

Marcos will fly home to the Philippines after his two-day state visit.

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Melbourne, March 4 to 6

Four days later, Marcos will again be back in Australia, but in a different city.

Marcos will mingle with other Southeast Asian leaders in Melbourne for the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit, an event that will commemorate 50 years since the regional bloc established formal relations with its oldest dialogue partner.

His schedule is as follows:

  • March 4, 6 pm: Marcos will be the keynote speaker at the Lowy Institute. He will “highlight the Philippines’ role as an active participant in world affairs and a contributor to the rules-based regional security architecture,” according to DFA Assistant Secretary Daniel Epiritu.
  • March 4, 7:40 pm: Marcos will grace a Filipino community event.
  • March 5: He will speak before an audience at the Victoria International Container Terminal.
  • March 6: Marcos will attend the leaders’ plenary during the summit proper, which according to Espiritu will see leaders “review ASEAN-Australia cooperation through the years and propose ways forward to further bolster relations.”
  • March 6: During the summit proper, Marcos will also attend a leaders’ retreat, where the leaders will, as per Espiritu, “exchange views on key geopolitical developments and issues affecting our region and the world.”

The South China Sea dispute is also expected to be raised during the summit. According to the DFA, the President himself may thank the Australian government for continuously recognizing the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2016 arbitral award that ruled in favor of the Philippines and against China’s all-encompassing claim over the vast waterway.

The DFA said documents that are expected to be produced from the summit include:

  • ASEAN-Australia leaders’ vision statement on peace and prosperity, on the 50th anniversary of their relations
  • Melbourne Declaration, which Espiritu described as a “more specific outline of areas of cooperation” compared to the vision statement, which will contain only basic instructions

The Philippines will also hold bilateral talks with Cambodia and New Zealand.

Manila will take part in these organized working-level events as well:

  • maritime forum, in which DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo will deliver a keynote speech alongside Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong
  • working-level discussions on climate and clean energy, to be attended by representatives from the Department of Energy and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
  • emerging leaders’ track, to be attended by young Filipino chief executives

There are 408,000 Filipinos in Australia as of 2022, making the migrant community the fifth largest in the Land Down Under.

PRIMER: Marcos’ agenda in his trips to Australia in February, March 2024

– Rappler.com

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.