Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. concluded his four-day official visit to the United States amid rising tensions in the South China Sea.
During his meeting with US President Joe Biden on Monday, Marcos said he was determined to forge “an even stronger relationship” with the United States to “address the concerns of our times,” including issues related to the economy and security.
The two leaders announced a series of agreements and initiatives to boost bilateral cooperation, such as a new set of defense guidelines, the transfer of US military hardware to the Philippines, a US trade mission to Manila later this year, and $3 billion in public and private financing for infrastructure projects.
Biden also reaffirmed Washington’s “ironclad” security commitment to the Philippines under the 1951 mutual defense treaty, which stipulates that both sides would help defend each other if either were attacked by a third party.
However, Marcos’ visit to Washington has drawn criticism and warnings from China, which views the US-Philippines alliance as a threat to its interests and sovereignty in the region.
Marcos, who is the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., won the presidential election in 2022 with a populist platform that promised to restore law and order, fight corruption and revive the economy.
Some observers say that Marcos’ visit to Washington may also have domestic implications, as he faces mounting criticism and protests over his human rights record, his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and his alleged involvement in electoral fraud.
Marcos’ critics accuse him of following his father’s footsteps in suppressing dissent, cracking down on media freedom, and abusing his power for personal gain.
They also question his legitimacy as president, citing allegations that he rigged the 2022 election by manipulating the automated vote-counting system and intimidating voters.