MANILA: President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Sunday departed for the US on a trip likely to set the tone of the Philippines’ foreign policy and showcase the new leader’s attempt at distancing himself from the legacy of his late dictator father.
Marcos’ six-day working visit will include an address before the UN General Assembly, and meetings with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and “leaders of long-standing and important partners of the Philippines,” details of which have yet to be announced.
The president said he would be raising the priority issues of his administration at the UN, such as climate change and food security, laying out the Philippines’ role and contributions at strengthening the international system.
“The UN is where the countries of the world congregate to discuss the most pressing challenges facing our people. Thus, it is important for us to participate in the General Assembly and to make certain that our voice is heard,” Marcos said ahead of his flight to America.
He will be the first Philippine president to speak at the General Assembly since 2010, the presidential palace said in a statement.
His visit to New York coincides with the 50th anniversary of martial law on Sept. 21, which commemorates the day that dictatorship under the elder Marcos began in the Philippines. The late dictator was overthrown in a people-power revolt in 1986 after ruling for over two decades, during which he took control over the country’s courts, business, and media.
As his namesake son returned to power 36 years after the popular uprising, the US trip will be a chance for the new president to make an impression on the international community, political analyst Roman Casiple told Arab News.
“His trip to the US is basically part of his earlier trips when he went to Indonesia and Singapore trying to sound out what other countries think of the Philippines,” he said. “Especially given that he is the son of a former dictator, if it has an effect on him.”
Casiple noted that Marcos had been “very careful” in “trying to distance himself” from his father’s legacy since taking office in June. “I think he wants to present himself before the world as kind, compassionate,” he added.
He pointed out that Marcos would not only have to address concerns surrounding the Marcos name but also the legacy left by his predecessor, President Rodrigo Duterte, who was known for being autocratic.
“You will be surprised because I think that Marcos Jr. will appear as very democratic, that he will not be a problem.”
Marcos’ New York trip will also make it clear that “he is pro-Western,” Casiple said, “considering the global battering that China and Russia are now getting.”
Though Marcos is likely to maintain relations with China, Casiple said a strong Philippines-US relationship was “what is in front of us.”
He added: “He really wants to make a name for himself, his posture as a person not as the son (of Marcos senior) before the world.”