Philippine President Marcos, US President Biden expand security, environment protection, trade ties; affirm commitment to international law

2023 May 1

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and US President Joseph Biden on Monday affirmed a series of partnerships aimed at strengthening the alliance of Manila and Washington.

In a joint statement, Marcos and Biden hailed the “remarkable ties of friendship, community, and shared sacrifice that serve as the foundation of the U.S.-Philippines alliance.”

“In efforts to promote inclusive and broad-based prosperity, invest in the clean energy transition and the fight against climate change, uphold international peace and stability, and ensure respect for human rights and the rule of law, the United States and the Philippines will remain the closest of allies, working together to deliver a better future for our citizens and tackle the emerging challenges of the twenty-first century,” the joint statement read.

Security cooperation, humanitarian aid

Marcos and Biden welcomed the identification of new sites under the US-Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
In the joint statement, both leaders said this “will strengthen Philippine security and support the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ modernization goals, while driving US investment to local communities across the Philippines and improving our shared ability to rapidly deliver humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.”

Both leaders underscored their “unwavering commitment” to freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, as well as the importance of respecting the sovereign rights of states within their exclusive economic zones consistent with international law.

“The leaders support the right and ability of Filipino fisherfolk to pursue their traditional livelihoods. The leaders note the ruling of the 2016 arbitral tribunal, constituted pursuant to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” the statement added.

They also affirmed the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, which they described as an “indispensable element of global security and prosperity.”

Both Biden and Marcos conveyed their support for Ukraine in its sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, “noting that the conflict (with Russia) has adversely affected food and energy security in the Indo-Pacific.”

Clean energy, food security

The US leader earlier said he will dispatch a Presidential Trade and Investment Mission to the Philippines to enhance American investment in the Philippines’ innovation economy, its clean energy transition and critical minerals sector, and food security of its people.

Based on the joint statement, the leaders further bared the Philippines and the US will co-host the 2024 Indo-Pacific Business Forum, described as the US’ “marquee commercial event in the region.”

It will be held in Manila to further establish the Philippines as a key hub for regional supply chains and high-quality investment, they said.

Environmental protection, fight against climate change

Both leaders resolved to expand cooperation on environmental protections, including enhanced domain awareness, marine conservation, and protecting coastal areas from environmental degradation.

Marcos and Biden pledged to promote increased cooperation and knowledge sharing between the United States and the Philippines through the Science and Technology Agreement (STA). They also welcomed US plans to establish an Open-RAN Interoperability Lab in Manila.

Rule of law, human rights

Marcos and Biden underscored the need to strengthen democratic institutions, rule of law, and respect for human rights, including freedom of expression, press, and association.

The two leaders further noted the importance of countering any form of violence, such as that against civil society, women, children, and marginalized groups.

The leaders welcomed the creation of a bilateral Labor Working Group as part of the US-Philippines TIFA, which is seen to provide a crucial opportunity for the United States and the Philippines to “work together on implementation of internationally recognized labor rights,” and to facilitate exchange and dialogue among US and Philippine governments and labor unions, as well as employer organizations.