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Opinion

Too early to say US trip was a success

POSTSCRIPT - Federico D. Pascual Jr. - The Philippine Star

It’s too early for followers of President Ferdinand Marcos to declare his recent six-day working visit to the United States a success – and for his critics to dismiss it as a failure. We’ll have to wait for the verified scorecard or make our own assessment and conclusions.

We can evaluate tentatively the mission’s accomplishments against the declared objectives. What did Marcos set out to do as a visiting chief of state? Was he able to do it? And at what expense of time and resources?

Before departing on Sept. 18, Marcos said: “I will outline our expectations of the United Nations and the work ahead, the role our country will play and our contributions in strengthening the international system.”

Was he able to do that during his 21 minutes at the UN podium? We think he tried his best, although we were not sure the many vacant seats in the yawning session hall were listening.

But that’s the way it often is in assemblies of people of varied concerns (UN member-states now number 193). Marcos himself did not listen to the 16 other speakers after him. He left right after his speech.

The speakers after him were the heads of state of Lithuania, Romania, Bolivia, Peru, Marshall Islands, Seychelles, Argentina, Poland, Guatemala, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, El Salvador, Japan, Germany, Morocco and Italy.

Marcos also met with the US-ASEAN Business Council, the US-Philippines Society and the Asia Society. Those meetings, together with briefings with investors, plus his appearance at the New York Stock Exchange, may help draw US investments to the Philippines, but that would be counting the chicks before they hatch.

A trip is not complete without the President touching base with our kababayans abroad who send foreign exchange back home that amounted to at least $31.4 billion in 2021. On this trip, FilAms welcomed him at a performing arts center in Newark, New Jersey.

So, was the Marcos expedition to America a success? We think it was a qualified success, comparing what he was able to do and what he said he intended to accomplish. The missing figures are those of the US investments that his team has been pursuing relentlessly.

The Biden-Marcos dialog in NY

President Marcos sought a meeting with his US counterpart. Two days after he spoke at the UN, President Biden met with him and his small group at the InterContinental Barclay in New York.

Part of the White House account of their exchange:

Biden: Well, Mr. President, welcome to you and your delegation. I think I woke you up election night. I called you so late to congratulate you. (Laughter.) But it’s a great victory, and I – and my best to your wife as well.

The relationship between the United States and the Philippines xxx has very deep roots. We’ve had some rocky times, but the fact is it’s a critical relationship, from our perspective. I hope you feel the same way.

We have strong ties, including millions of Filipino Americans who are very proud of their ancestry and desperately want us to continue to have a strong relationship. Our foundations are strong in the US-Philippine alliance, which is of critical importance.

For decades, the alliance has strengthened both of us, I believe. And one of the things I want to talk about today is how we continue to strengthen that and work together on the things that are of greatest concern to you.

I look forward to discussing the opportunities for a wide range of issues, including COVID-19 recovery, energy security and renewable energy. I was impressed with the work you did on windmills and a whole range of other things. You and I both think that’s the future xxx.

In addition, I expect we’ll discuss the South China Sea and disputes in a critical global throughway. I’ve spent a lot of time with not only the President of China but others about the international waters and how they have to be respected. xxx

Thank you for your position on the war against Ukraine and – by Russia – and how it’s impacting energy prices and – and food prices. xxx

And so, we want to talk about human rights, talk about a whole range of things. But I’m mainly interested to know what’s on your mind and how we can continue to strengthen this relationship.

Marcos: Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you. We’re very happy for the opportunity to meet with you despite the schedules that we both have to deal with.

Biden: You came a little farther than I did.

Marcos: (Laughs.) Well, the 100-plus-year-old relationship between the Philippines and the US continues to evolve as we face the challenges of this new century and the events that we have been watching over the past few months. So, we have very much to discuss in terms of redefining, I suppose, in many ways.

But the role of the United States in maintaining the peace in our region is something that is much appreciated by all the countries in the region and the Philippines especially.

We feel that we are especially fortunate because we have very strong foundation of a very long relationship and the strong relationships on various facets not only political, not only diplomatic, but also economic. And, of course, there is the very large Filipino population that have chosen to live and make their lives here in the United States and have been very successful.

Again, we would like to thank the United States for the massive help that we received during the pandemic. We had the provision of up to almost 36 million doses of vaccines very early on. For that, we are very, very grateful.

We continue to look to the United States for that continuing partnership and the maintenance of peace in our region. xxx

Thank you again, Mr. President, for making time to see us. We are your partners. We are your allies. We are your friends. And, in like fashion, we have always considered the United States our partner, our ally and our friend.

Biden: Thank you. It’s mutual.

*      *      *

NB: Author is on Twitter as @FDPascual. Email: [email protected]. All Postscripts are also archived at ManilaMail.com

PRESIDENT FERDINAND MARCOS

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