Marcos hosts meetings with international diplomats

Jojo Riñoza and Jeoffrey Maitem
2022.05.23
Manila
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Marcos hosts meetings with international diplomats Presumptive President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (right) meets with U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Heather Variava in Mandaluyong, Philippines, May 23, 2022.
Bongbong Marcos Media Bureau via AP

Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the presumptive president-elect of the Philippines, hosted meetings with diplomats from the United States, Japan and other foreign governments on Monday as his new administration begins to take shape.

The Commission on Elections is expected to make the vote official later this month, In addition, a joint session of Congress is expected to convene to officially proclaim Marcos as the winner of the May 9 presidential election.

Marcos said he met with the ambassadors of India, Japan, South Korea as well as the “head of station” of the United States embassy in Manila to discuss “how we are going to handle the next few years (vis-à-vis) our relationship with the different countries.”

Discussions focused on how to move ahead as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the globe, Marcos said. The partnerships should focus on working to stabilize the global economy amid the pandemic. 

Within days of his landslide victory in the May 9 general election, Marcos also received phone calls from the leaders of the top superpowers as well as other countries.

“I have been receiving congratulatory messages from different heads of states,” Marcos told reporters on Monday. “The first one who has called us is U.S. President Joe Biden [followed by] Chinese President Xi [Jinping]. I have also spoken to the Japanese Prime Minister [Fumio] Kishida, I even spoke to the outgoing Prime Minister of Australia, [Scott] Morrison.”

Marcos is expected to take office at the end of June, succeeding Rodrigo Duterte, father of the presumptive incoming vice president, Sara Duterte-Carpio.

“I believe there’s no problem in terms of recognition. Maybe the comfortable margin that we enjoyed during the election has a part to play in that,” he said. 

Marcos also said he had been briefed on the ongoing situation involving South Korea and its rival, North Korea.

Cabinet in making

In addition to receiving calls from world leaders, Marcos has begun filling cabinet spots by naming key members, notably Jesus Crispin Remulla, to handle the justice portfolio.

A lawyer, Remulla served in Congress and is a member of a leading Philippine political dynasty. He was instrumental in Congress’ decision to not renew broadcaster ABS-CBN Corp.’s license in 2020. 

Remulla, who said on Monday that he had accepted the cabinet invitation, joins Sara Duterte-Carpio, who has agreed to handle the education portfolio, and economist Arsenio Balisacan who is to serve as socioeconomic planning secretary. 

In a statement, Balisacan said he would take on his new role “mindful of the immense work needed to accelerate economic recovery and post-recovery development.

“I look forward to working with the economic team and the private sector to bring back the country to its pre-pandemic high-growth trajectory, deliver rapid poverty reduction and reduce socioeconomic inequality,” he said.

The state-run Philippine News Agency, meanwhile, reported that Bienvenido Laguesma and Susan Ople had agreed to lead the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Migrant Workers, respectively.

Challenger Leni Robredo, the outgoing vice president who received about 14 million votes or less than half of Marcos’ 31 million in the race for president, has called on her supporters to accept the results even as she seeks an investigation into cheating allegations.

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