Senator Imee Marcos unveiled her seven-point plan for strengthening the foreign policy relationship between the Philippines and the United States during a roundtable in Washington DC this week and called on her American counterparts not to force the Philippines to ” choose between the United States and China”.
Marcos pointed out that the Philippines and its Southeast Asian neighbors have called for a “rational approach” in relations between Washington and Beijing to prevent a return to the “melodrama” of the Cold War.
The head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee participated in the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) forum, which was also attended by renowned think tanks such as the Federal US Institute for Peace, the US-ASEAN Business Council, the Center for a New American Security and the Asia Foundation, some embassies, companies and universities.
“Don’t make us choose between the United States and China,” Marcos said as he clarified the direction the Philippines’ foreign relations should take with two of the world’s dominant superpowers under the leadership of his brother, President Ferdinand “Bongbong. ” Marcos Jr.
Part of the ‘plan’, she said, is to ‘re-examine’, rather than revise, the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
She said the plan aims to ensure how the language of the two agreements is to be implemented, as well as to assess the delivery of development assistance from the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) as promised.
The plan, Marcos said, also aims to increase military assistance and support for local defense contractors. With the recent formation of multilateral defense arrangements such as AUKUS and QUAD, she said the draft also calls for further study of their implications for the Philippines and existing regional groupings.
She also said the plan also seeks new business opportunities in deep-sea fishing and in the production and export of Philippine metals and semiconductor chips through a “green metals initiative” and cooperation under the US CHIPS and Science Act of 2022.
At the same time, Marcos took the opportunity to thank USAID and the US-Philippines Society for their continued assistance in disaster relief and recovery as she sought to improve social protection and public safety nets.
Likewise, the senator called for more professional exchanges between the Philippines and the United States, including health personnel, teachers and academics, for better training, transfer of know-how and creation employment potential.
Marcos also used the venue to affirm the strong alliance between the Philippines and the United States, but said they should not hinder engagement with China.
According to the lawmaker, The Plan hopes to expand its bilateral relationship with China through confidence-building measures, joint development and the finalization of a code of conduct in the South China Sea.
Marcos’ remarks echo recent statements made by the President during his speech and bilateral talks with US President Joe Biden at the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.
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