United States Vice President Kamala Harris responded to the comments of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr made in jest in relation to her trip to Palawan.
The US official on Monday went to the Malacañang Palace as part of her three-day visit to the country to bolster security and economic ties, as well as underscore America’s commitment to defend its treaty ally.
Marcos said the Philippines has been “looking forward” to the visit for a while, especially following his brief conversation with Harris in Thailand during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit.
He also took note of her trip to the Philippine province closest to China, which he previously said should not be a concern as it is “very clearly” on the archipelagic country’s territory.
“We are happy that you have arrived. It is unfortunate that it is such a quick visit,” Marcos said.
“Yes,” Harris said.
“We would have hoped to have shown you more of the Philippines. Although, I suppose you actually are doing that because you are seeing some of the prettiest parts of the Philippines in Palawan,” Marcos said.
“And I’m sure you’re just going to the resorts and the beaches,” he added, earning laughs from people around him.
Palawan was recently hailed by a long-running UK publication as the “most desirable island (rest of the world)” this year.
“That is not the life I’ve chosen these days,” Harris responded to Marcos and then laughed.
The chief executive laughed with her and then proceeded to mention the country’s longtime ties.
Harris and Marcos discussed a number of global issues and the importance of standing up for international rules and norms.
The US vice president reiterated the interests of America in peace and stability in the South China Sea.
Harris also said her country stands with its Philippine ally in upholding rules-based international maritime order, unimpeded lawful commerce and respect for international law, including freedoms of navigation and overflight.
She likewise underscored America’s commitment to working closely with the Philippines to strengthen their economic partnership and investment ties.
Meanwhile, Harris’ visit to Palawan was central to the USA’s bid to counter China’s increasingly assertive stance in the region.
Palawan is only about 320 kilometers from the Spratly Islands, where Beijing has dredged the sea floor to build harbors and airstrips. Parts of the archipelago are also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Marcos on traveling
Marcos previously shared that he likes to travel.
Before he arrived in Cambodia for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit, the president said that he would “try everything he can” in relation to its cuisine.
“Kasi nga first time ko. I’ve never been to Phnom Penh. So yeah, I’m looking forward to that. I like to travel anyway. So I always end up trying everything,” Marcos said early this month.
Since assuming office, he has gone on five official trips so far as of November 13. This includes his Singapore weekend trip for the return of the F1 Grand Prix last October.
The chief executive said that he has accepted “all” invites from foreign leaders telling him to make state visits to their countries.
An area in Villamor Airbase was designated to serve as the president’s gateway whenever he leaves and arrives from his official trips.
Jose Manuel Romualdez, the Philippine ambassador to the United States and Marcos’ cousin, recently said that traveling “is a must” for any leader.
“There’s a big difference whenever there is an in-person meeting. Diplomacy is conducted in-person. That’s the only way you can conduct diplomacy and our president needs to do that. We told him that there are some travel commitments he really cannot avoid,” he said to ANC’s “Headstart.”