By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

WORKING VISIT. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. arrives in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday night (April 10, 2024, US time) for the historic trilateral meeting with the United States and Japan. Marcos was welcomed by Philippine Embassy and US government officials. (Photo courtesy of PCO)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. arrived in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday night (US time) to attend the first trilateral summit with United States (US) President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

The presidential plane carrying Marcos and the official Philippine delegation landed at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland at around 7:47 p.m., Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said in a statement Thursday.

Marcos was welcomed by officials of the US government and the Philippine Embassy in Washington, which include US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson, US Air Force’s 89 Operations Group Commander, Col. Gregory Adams; US Deputy Chief of Protocol Sharon Weber, US Defense Assistant Secretary Eli Ratner, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez, Philippine Defense Attache to the US, Navy Commodore Salvador Henry Quinto; and Philippine Police Attache to the US Brig. Gen. Wilson Joseph Lopez.

Before leaving Manila on Wednesday, Marcos said he would highlight the importance of enhancing the Philippines’ economic cooperation with Japan and the US “with a view to promoting economic resilience and security.”

Marcos intends to explore ways of advancing cooperation, especially in the areas of critical infrastructure, semiconductors, digitalization and cybersecurity, critical minerals, renewable energy, and defense and maritime cooperation.

The Chief Executive is also expected to exchange views with Biden and Kishida on various regional security issues of mutual concern, including the importance of upholding the rule of law and preserving the rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific region.

During his two-day working visit to Washington, Marcos is also expected to hold a bilateral meeting with Biden to discuss the further strengthening of the alliance between the Philippines and the US.

Marcos is also scheduled to meet with business leaders in the US to invite them to invest in the Philippines.

More security interactions seen

Ahead of the historic summit, the Philippine Navy (PN) said it expects more interactions with its American and Japanese counterparts in maintaining regional peace and stability.

This came after PN chief Vice Adm. Toribio Adaci Jr. met with his counterparts from the US and Japan on the sidelines of the US Pacific Fleet (PACFLT) change-of-command ceremony at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii last April 5.

“Vice Admiral Adaci had separate meetings with US Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Lisa Franchetti, newly-installed PACFLT Commander Admiral Stephen Koehler, and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) Chief of Staff Admiral Ryo Sakai to further reinforce naval ties and reassure continued collaboration toward capability and capacity enhancement,” PN spokesperson Capt. John Percie Alcos said in a statement Wednesday night.

Aside from reaffirming their commitment and mutual support, these naval commanders eyed the enhancement of the conduct of maritime cooperation activities (MCA), training, and personnel competence development, he added.

“Admiral Franchetti accordingly commended the significant advances in interoperability achieved through MCA’s and training. She also reiterated her commitment to advancing Navy-to-Navy relations and enhancing bilateral initiatives with purpose and urgency,” Alcos said.

Adaci also said these meetings further strengthened the foundation of the strategic partnership among the three navies that is anchored on their shared commitment to upholding regional peace and stability. (with Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)