NEW YORK – President Joe Biden has promised Thursday his first face-to-face meeting with the new president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to work on strengthening his relationship with the Pacific nation after what he said were “rough” times in the past.
The meeting, which was held alongside the United Nations General Assembly, discussed the tensions in the South China Sea, the traditional security relationship between the United States and the Philippines, the strengthening of the global economy and food security as a result of the Russian invasion. of Ukraine, and other issues.
Biden also noted that the Philippines is one of the allies of the United States to immediately condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“We’ve been through difficult times, but the reality is that it’s a sensitive, sensitive relationship, from our point of view. I hope you feel the same way,” Biden said at the beginning of the meeting.
The relationship fell apart during Marcos’ predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte.
Human rights groups say Duterte’s “war on drugs” has resulted in thousands of extrajudicial killings. According to human rights groups, almost all the killings, carried out by the police and armed vigilantes, took place without due process, and most of the victims were unarmed, low-level criminals. The US government has suspended its anti-narcotics assistance to the Philippine National Police since 2016.
The White House said in a statement that the leaders discussed “the importance of respecting human rights.”
Thursday’s talks come amid heightened tensions between the United States and China over the US’s Taiwan policy. The “One China” policy recognizes Beijing as the Chinese government but allows informal and defense ties with Taiwan. China claims the self-governing island as its own.
Marcos, the son and namesake of the country’s former dictator, took office in June. He said he wanted to have closer relations with China, which also wanted to put him on trial.
Biden has valued improving relations with Pacific countries early in his presidency. He sees emerging China as America’s most dangerous economic and national security adversary.
Marcos underlined to Biden that the Philippines is “your partner, we are your allies, we are your friends.” He also thanked the United States for its “extensive” assistance during the crisis, including the sharing of Covid-19 vaccines, and its role in ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.
“The role of the United States in maintaining peace in our region is something that all countries in the region, and the Philippines, in particular, are very grateful for,” Marcos said. He added, “The more than 100-year relationship between the Philippines and the United States continues to evolve as we face the challenges of this new century.”
Before Marcos took office earlier this year, Kurt Campbell, coordinator of Indo-Pacific affairs at the White House National Security Council, acknowledged that “historical considerations” could present “obstacles” to Marcos Jr.’s relationship. That seemed to be a reference. A long-running lawsuit in the United States against the estate of his father, Ferdinand Marcos.
A US appeals court in 1996 upheld $2 billion in damages against the elder Marcos’ estate for torturing and killing thousands of Filipinos. The court upheld the 1994 jury verdict in Hawaii, where he fled after being forced into power in 1986. He died there in 1989.
The elder Marcos placed the Philippines under martial law in 1972, a year before his term expired. He closed the offices of the House of Representatives and the country’s newspapers, and ordered the arrest of many people who were against politics and campaigners, and sentenced them by decree.
Marcos Jr. lashed out at critics who described his father as a dictator. He also repeated his father’s justification that martial law was necessary to combat the growing Muslim and communist insurgencies. “It was necessary – from my father’s point of view at the time – to declare martial law because the war was already going on,” he said in a recent interview with ALLTV.
The Biden administration tried to maintain a strong relationship with the young Marcos administration. The two leaders had good cooperation at the ministerial level, according to the White House.
Source : www.nbcnews.com