Marcos to visit Australia, address Parliament

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
Marcos to visit Australia, address Parliament
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during the launching of ART X DESIGN at the National Museum.
Presidential Communications Office

MANILA, Philippines — President Marcos will visit Australia’s capital Canberra on Feb. 28 and 29 to speak before the Australian parliament and discuss key mutual issues, including defense and security, with the country’s senior officials, Malacañang announced yesterday.

Marcos is set to address Australian lawmakers on Feb. 29, when he is expected to discuss the vision for the strategic partnership signed between the Philippines and Australia last year, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said in a statement.

“The President will have separate meetings with Australian senior officials, where he is anticipated to have constructive discussions on defense and security, trade, investments, people-to-people exchanges, multilateral cooperation and regional issues,” the PCO added.

During his visit, Marcos 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, according to the PCO.

A Bloomberg article on Feb. 12 said Marcos would address a rare joint sitting of Australia’s parliament.

A joint sitting of both houses of parliament is a rare honor previously only accorded to leaders such as former US presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, according to the Bloomberg report.

Marcos will be the first Filipino leader to address the Australian parliament, the PCO said in a separate press statement.

He will join the distinguished list of 16 world leaders who have addressed the Australian parliament starting from the late US president George H.W. Bush in 1992, then US president Bill Clinton in 1996, then US president George W. Bush in 2003, then Chinese president Hu Jintao in 2003, then British prime minister Tony Blair in 2006 and Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2014.

Other world leaders who have addressed the Australian parliament were Obama, the late former Japan prime minister Shinzo Abe, former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, former New Zealand prime minister John Key, former British prime minister David Cameron, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape.

Marape addressed the Australian parliament just last Feb. 8.

Marcos is also scheduled to travel to Melbourne on March 4 to 6 to participate in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Australia Summit.

The Philippines and Australia have agreed to hold annual defense ministers meeting and other joint initiatives as part of moves to elevate their bilateral ties to a strategic partnership during Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s visit to Manila in September last year.

Albanese’s visit was the first visit of an Australian prime minister to the Philippines in 20 years.

The strategic partnership covers defense and maritime matters, strengthening of counterterrorism and law enforcement and facilitation of deeper cooperation in a range of areas, including climate action, education, development and people-to-people exchanges.

The two countries will mark the 78th anniversary of their diplomatic relations this November.

As of 2022, about 408,000 Filipinos and Australians with Filipino descent call Australia their home, making them the fifth largest migrant community in the country.

Australia remains as one of only two countries with which the Philippines has a Status of Visiting Forces Agreement.

Last year, the two countries embarked on a strategic partnership that enhanced the bilateral relations from a comprehensive partnership in 2015.

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