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Marcos back in PH after ‘fruitful’ attendance at 29th Apec meeting
PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said his participation at the 29th Asia-pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Economic Leaders Meeting (AELM) in Bangkok, Thailand has been “fruitful” as he advanced the country’s interest in various concerns.
Marcos returned to the Philippines on the evening of November 19, 2022 from the four-day APEC-AELM.
During his arrival speech at the Villamor Airbase, Marcos said among the issues discussed during their meeting were climate change, supply chains, food supply, digitalization and empowerment of women.
He said they shared insights on the possible solutions for these concerns, especially on economic development and ramping efforts in the fight against climate change that resulted in several deadly calamities in the Philippines.
“And the most important thing that I was able to surmise or to understand from this meeting was very simple, that it is very encouraging because the problems as we have identified them seem to be the same problems for most of the countries,” the President said.
“In other words, we have a consonance of views and analyses on the things that are to be of concern,” he added.
Marcos said that the Apec must address climate change which he described as the “greatest existential threat” affecting the region, food security and other challenges if it wants to build the economic future that it wants.
Marcos also had bilateral meetings with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, France, Australia, New Zealand and China.
The President was elated by the announcement of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that his government will shoulder the unpaid salaries of around 10,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who worked for Saudi construction companies that declared bankruptcy in 2015 and 2016.
Marcos said there will be more opportunities for Filipinos in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under its new massive development plan amid the expansion of its economy.
He said they also discussed oil and fertilizer supplies.
“Labor, may mga specifics talaga. Pero sa fuel, oil supply, we touched upon it but we just have to pursue it further. ‘Yung fertilizer mukhang mas madali, baka meron tayong makuha sa kanila,” said Marcos, adding that an insurance system for OFWS to ensure their compensation in any eventualities.
(Labor, there are specifics. With fuel and oil supply, we touched upon it but we just have to pursue it further. The fertilizer seems to be easier, maybe we can negotiate with them.)
Marcos looks forward to receiving Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman on a visit to the Philippines to discuss with him a wide range of issues and areas of cooperation.
The chief executive said his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron was “very extensive and quite productive” as they focused on discussing agriculture, energy and defense concerns.
He said he is seeking assistance from the government of France in terms of agriculture.
“(I) engaged Macron to talk about energy because France is a leading proponent of nuclear energy and its experience is quite extensive, which the Philippines could rely on if it goes ahead with a partnership on nuclear energy,” said Marcos.
“I’m very confident that it will be a strong partnership simply because they have up to 67 percent of their power production is from nuclear energy so they are very, very used to it,” he added.
Marcos said the interconnectivity not only in the global economy but even political structures around the world that France would be involving itself in defense issues in the region.
He said the Philippines and Australia through its Prime Minister Anthony Albanese agreed that they can collaborate further on agriculture and energy aside from other areas of cooperation.
“They (Filipinos) have appreciated very much the hospitality Australians have given them, especially... they always mention when they were just starting out, they didn’t know what to do, where to go to, the Australian government has been terribly helpful,” Marcos said.
“But we have many, many connections that we, I think, we can strengthen and promote further: the areas of agriculture, the areas of renewable energy,” he added.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expressed commitment to strengthen its collaboration with the Philippines on trade, security efforts and bringing up new innovations in farming to Filipino farmers to increase sustainability and productivity.
She also vowed to impose efforts to improve welfare and address the needs of overseas Filipino workers (OFWS).
During the business meetings by the President, particularly at the Apec CEO Summit, he expressed his views on the present global economic conditions, as well as the country’s policies to improve its economy.
“We have much to do to play our part in Apec, and we will undertake all that so that we will contribute to the success of this region,” the President said.
“Because the ultimate, in terms of the economies, the ultimate aspiration is for the Apec region, [the] Asia Pacific region, to return to its old role as a driver of the global economy. And if we do all of the things that we are planning to do, that will come back again. And we once again will be at the forefront of the global economy,” Marcos added.