Plans drawn for Canada visit of Bongbong Marcos

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  • Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly hosted her Philippine counterpart Enrique Manalo in Ottawa on May 8, 2024.

    In a media release that day, Joly related that she and Manalo held wide-ranging discussions on several shared concerns between their two nations, from defence cooperation to climate action.

    The release also gave indications about preparations being made for the anticipated state visit to Canada of Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in 2024.

    The statement read: “Noting the robust and mutually beneficial partnership between our countries, both Ministers agreed to instruct officials to begin discussions on elevating the bilateral relationship. The Ministers discussed the prospective visit of the President of the Republic of the Philippines, Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., to Canada.”

    The state visit of Marcos Jr. will serve as the highlight of the celebration this year of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

    It may be recalled that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met Marcos Jr. on September 6, 2023 on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia.

    In the meeting, Trudeau invited Marcos Jr. to visit Canada in 2024.

    Marcos Jr. has accepted the invitation, and the two governments have started laying the groundwork for his visit.

    In a report by the Philippine News Agency on November 24, 2023, Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines David Hartman said that a specific date is being worked on.

    At that time, Hartman said that the visit would likely happen “in the latter part of the calendar year” to accommodate Marcos Jr.’s schedule.

    “We will welcome President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on a state visit to Ottawa and other cities across Canada in the interest of deepening our ties at the very highest level to prioritize our work together and to chart an ambitious way forward,” Hartman said during the inaugural Foreign Service Institute (FSI) Ambassadors’ Lecture Series in Pasay City.

    In a series of posts on May 9 on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter, Manalo related that he had a “very productive meeting” with his Canadian counterpart Joly.

    “We expressed satisfaction at the continuing progress in the collaboration between Philippines & Canada especially in defense and security, trade and investments, education, maritime,
    people-to-people exchanges, and partnering to create greater awareness of the international law of the sea, particularly UNCLOS,” Manalo stated.

    UNCLOS stands for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

    It may be recalled that on January 22, 2013, the Philippines instituted arbitral proceedings against China under UNCLOS.

    The proceedings related to China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea.

    On July 12, 2016, the arbitral tribunal ruled in favour of the Philippines.

    The South China Sea is being claimed in whole and in parts by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

    December 12, 2023, Global Affairs Canada issued a statement condemning actions taken by China against Philippine vessels in the contested region.

    “The PRC’s actions demonstrate a clear disregard for navigational rights and freedoms and are inconsistent with its obligations under international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Canada reiterates that the 2016 ruling of the UNCLOS arbitral tribunal in the matter of the South China Sea is binding on the parties.”

    Going back to Manalo’s tweets on May 9, the top Filipino diplomat also posted: “As our two countries celebrate 75 years of diplomatic relations this year, we reaffirmed our commitment to elevate PH-Canada relations.”

    Diplomatic relations between Canada and the Philippines began in 1949.

    “With nearly one million Canadian residents of Philippine origin contributing to Canada’s multicultural society through their culture and heritage, people-to-people ties are at the foundation of the two countries’ relations,” Joly’s Global Affairs Canada department noted in a May 6, 2024 media release.

    The release also recalled that Canada announced its Indo-Pacific Strategy in November 2022, which will guide the country’s engagement with the region that includes the Philippines.

    In the same release, Joly stated: “For 75 years, our two countries have enjoyed a long-standing partnership—one that is anchored in generations of dynamic connections between our peoples.”

    By Carlito Pablo

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