President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. met with his predecessor former President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, Malaca?ang has said.
According to Presidential Communications Office Secrectary Cheloy Garafil, Duterte went to see Marcos “to talk to him about his recent meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in China.”
“They also discussed other issues. The former President likewise gave some good pieces of advice to President Marcos,” Garafil said.
Video from the PCO and photos from Senator Bong Go’s Facebook showed former members of the Duterte Cabinet back in Malaca?ang.
They include Go, the former special assistant to the President; and former Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
Also at the Palace to meet Duterte was Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra, the former President’s secretary of justice.
Other members of the Marcos Cabinet in Malaca?ang during Duterte’s visit were Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, Special Assistant to the President Secretary Antonio Lagdameo, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, and Garafil.
Duterte on July 17 met Xi in Beijing just days after the Philippines commemorated the seventh anniversary of the arbitral ruling which upheld the country’s exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea over China’s massive claims.
Xi was reported to have asked Duterte to continue promoting cooperation between the two countries.
“I hope you will continue to play an important role in the friendly cooperation (between China and the Philippines),” state media quoted Xi as saying during a meeting at the Diaoyutai state guest-house in Beijing.
“During your tenure as president of the Philippines, you had resolutely made the strategic choice to improve relations with China in an attitude of being responsible to the people and to history,” Xi told Duterte.
Duterte during his administration adopted what he called an “independent foreign policy” but which others saw as a pivot to China.
During his term, Duterte also ordered the abrogation of the VFA after the US, a long-time Philippine defense and treaty ally, revoked the visa of his close ally, Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, .
US officials did not cite a specific reason why Dela Rosa’s visa was cancelled, but many speculated it was due to his involvement in Duterte’s violent war on drugs.
Manila sent an official letter of termination of the VFA to the US on February 11, 2020.
Duterte, however, repeatedly suspended the abrogation proceedings.
Under the Marcos administration, the Philippines and the US identified five more Philippine military installations which US military forces may access under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
The adoption of the new EDCA sites had China expressing concern.
“The comments on the locations of the new military bases also speak to the concern shared by many insightful people in the Philippines, who worry that this may draw their country into the whirlpool of a potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mao Ning said in April.
‘New line of communication’
Asked to comment on Duterte’s meeting with Xi, Marcos said he was aware of the former President’s trip to China and welcomed any new line of communication with the Asian power amid issues in the South China Sea.
Marcos added that he was certain Duterte will tell the Philippine government the details of his converstion with Chinese President Xi Jinping and how it could affect the country.
This developed as the Department of Foreign Affairs said it had no “official information” on Duterte’s trip to Beijing.
Marcos said he welcomed any new line of communication with China.
“If that is President PRRD then good. Hindi importante sa akin kung sino, kung ano, basta’t may makausap sila baka makatulong eh,” Marcos said. –NB, GMA Integrated News