Marcos arrives in Melbourne for ASEAN-Australia Special Summit

MELBOURNE—President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. arrived in Melbourne, Australia on Sunday to participate in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Australia Special Summit.

The presidential plane carrying Marcos and the entire Philippine delegation landed at 7:15 p.m. (4:15 p.m. Manila time).

Marcos and First Lady Louise “Liza” Araneta-Marcos were welcomed by Australia’s Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Tim Watts, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines HK Yu, ASEAN lead liaison officer Amy Eldridge, and other officials as they arrived at the Melbourne Airport.

In his departure speech, Marcos said the Summit commemorates the 50 years of ASEAN-Australia relations upon the invitation of Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

“As the first ASEAN Leader’s level engagement for the year, the Summit presents an opportunity to reiterate the Philippines’ national positions on regional and international issues and set the tone for ASEAN’s Dialogue Partner Summits later in the year,” Marcos said.

The President said there would be two main engagements with the Leaders’ Plenary where the regional bloc and Australia’s cooperation would be tackled.

A Leader’s Retreat will also take place for the exchange of views on key issues affecting the region and the world.

On the sidelines of the Summit, Marcos said he will hold bilateral meetings with the Prime Ministers of Cambodia and New Zealand to further strengthen cooperation.

He is also set to meet with the Filipino community in Melbourne, and promote Philippine business through the Philippine Business Forum led by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Marcos will be present during the launching of the expansion of the Victoria International Container Terminal, which is Australia’s first fully automated container terminal.

Opportunity for PH

The Chief Executive also said he will deliver a keynote speech at the Lowy Institute where he will highlight “the Philippines’ role as an active participant in world affairs and a contributor to the rules-based regional security architecture.”

“This administration continues to ensure that our constructive engagements with ASEAN, our external partners, and stakeholders, will best serve our national interest inasmuch as we promote the region’s peace, stability, security, and prosperity for the well-being of the Filipino and all our region,” Marcos added.

Vice President Sara Duterte has been designated as caretaker of the government while Marcos is abroad, according to Ian Cruz’ report on 24 Oras Weekend.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Daniel Espiritu, the Special Summit presents an opportunity for the government to show the Philippines’ core position on regional and international issues.

Espiritu also said Marcos could encourage Australia to remain committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes and to maintain respect for the rules-based international order.

Addressing challenges

During his state visit to Canberra last week, Marcos said Australia remains and will continue to be one of the Philippines’ closest friends.

He also sought its support in addressing challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.

In October 2021, ASEAN and Australia made the historic decision to establish a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP), which has ramped up cooperation, advanced shared priorities and implemented new programs among nations.

In November of this year, the Philippines and Australia will mark the 78th anniversary of their diplomatic relations.

The Presidential Communications Office said Australia continues to support the Philippines as the country’s 11th largest source of total Official Development Assistance (ODA), with grant commitments amounting to US$180.4 million.

Australia also serves as the second home to at least 408,000 Filipinos and Australians of Filipino descent. — VDV, GMA Integrated News

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