PBBM Calls For Self-reliant Asia

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Presses for region to chart own future without external interference

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Saturday said the Asian region must be able to decide for itself and chart its future without external interference or pressure.

TEAM PHILIPPINES. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (center) poses with members of the Philippine delegation to the APEC Summit in Bangkok, Thailand that includes (from left) Foreign Affairs Sec. Enrique Manalo, Social Welfare and Development Sec.Erwin Tulfo, Information and Communications Technology Sec. Ivan Uy, Senior Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Presidential Adviser on Creative Communication Paul Soriano, Speaker Martin Romualdez, Migrant Workers Sec. Susan Ople, Trade and Industry Sec. Alfredo Pascual and Office of the Press Secretary-OIC Undersecretary Cheloy Garafil.Inset photo shows Mr. Marcos delivering his arrival statement at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City late Saturday evening. Ver Noveno

Mr. Marcos made the statement in an interview with reporters on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Bangkok that concluded yesterday.

“What we should really pursue is to make sure that we in the region are the ones who will decide the future of the region. We should not let ourselves be PBBM…dictated by anyone,” the President said.

Mr. Marcos was asked to comment on a statement released by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs after his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. said Manila and Beijing.

The Ministry said Manila and Beijing “must stick to friendly consultation and handle differences and disputes properly. They should work together to reject unilateralism and acts of bullying, defend fairnes and justice, and safeguard peace and stability in the region.”

Mr. Marcos, however, said using the word “bullying is not exactly accurate.”

“I would characterize it as something different,” Mr. Marcos told reporters.

“Maybe that (regional independence) is what the Chinese were referring to.”

“It should be us in ASEAN, us in Asia, who should decide – it must only from there who will orchestrate on where to go in that region,” the President added.

Mr. Marcos acknowledged that when it comes to security and defense in the Asia Pacific, it has to be “a joint response.”

“We would do much better if we respond as a group,” he said.

Mr. Marcos delivering his arrival statement at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City late Saturday evening. RTVM screengrab

After Mr. Marcos’ bilateral meeting with Xi, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Philippines and China have agreed to support the early conclusion of discussions on the creation of a code of conduct in the South China Sea.

Both leaders affirmed that the sea code would “help manage differences and regional tensions” in the disputed waters, the DFA said in a statement.

“The two leaders agreed that maritime issues do not define the totality of Philippines-China relations,” the statement read.

The DFA also noted that Mr. Marcos told Xi: “Our foreign policy refuses to fall into the trap of a Cold War mindset. Ours is an independent foreign policy guided by our national interest and commitment to peace.”

Mr. Marcos on Saturday said former President and now Senior Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was his “secret weapon” in his meeting with Xi.

“I said secret weapon because I am a newbie here, I became the new leader that is why when we entered into the meeting and he [Xi] saw GMA, he said ‘this is my old friend, good friend’ and the dialogue became smooth,” Mr. Marcos said.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez earlier said Arroyo was “definitely an asset” to the Philippine delegation in the global event.

Mrs. Arroyo co-founded the Association for Philippines-China Understanding (APCU) in the 1970s.

Mr. Marcos also accepted the invitation from President Xi for a state visit to China in early January next year.

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