Indonesian President Marcos concludes his state visit from the Philippines

The Philippine president referred to Indonesia as “not only a neighbour, not only a friend, but kin” when standing next to President Joko Widodo.

On September 5, 2022, Indonesian President Joko Widodo greeted Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the Bogor Presidential Palace in Jakarta.

After a three-day state visit to Indonesia to strengthen ties between the two maritime neighbours, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. left the country yesterday.

The main event of Marcos’ trip, which was his first abroad journey since assuming office in June, was his meeting with Joko “Jokowi” Widodo of Indonesia on Monday. In a joint press release following the meeting, Jokowi said that the leaders had also agreed on a five-year diplomatic action plan and a defence and security cooperation pact, which would allow the Philippines to buy weapons from Indonesia’s defence contracts. The Indonesian president continued by saying that both parties had also decided to advance and evaluate efforts to demarcate maritime borders and to deepen “regional cooperation in the framework of ASEAN.”

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The message conveyed by Marcos choosing Indonesia as the location of his first state visit, for which Jokowi expressed his “respect,” was less significant than the formal agenda. The pick, according to a statement from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs yesterday, was made to emphasise the two countries’ “close bilateral connections, which have lasted over 73 years and cover a wide variety of fields, such as security, defence, commerce and investments, and culture.”

Following their meeting, Marcos and Jokowi had a joint news conference where they discussed related topics. According to a joint press release released after the meeting, Marcos, who was elected to office in May, stated that although formal diplomatic relations between Indonesia and the Philippines date back to 1949, “our relations go much further than that because we consider Indonesians not only a neighbour, not only a friend, but kin.”

As my first state visit as president of the Philippines, he said, “I feel that we have made the right choice in coming to Jakarta, and I believe that this is merely the beginning of many more things to come between Indonesia and the Philippines.

Marcos chose Jakarta as his final stop in order to highlight the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which has its headquarters there. Speaking with Jokowi discussed ASEAN’s role at a “very turbulent moment in geopolitics, not just in our area but also in the rest of the world,” Marcos told reporters.

We also talked at length about the role that ASEAN, in our opinion, should play as we navigate the challenges of this very volatile period in geopolitics, not just in our area but also across the rest of the globe, the official added.

The Philippines and Indonesia should strengthen their bilateral ties for a variety of reasons. Both are remote, administratively difficult-to-manage archipelagoes home to a wide variety of ethnic groups, and both have experienced difficulties establishing their own nations and states ever since gaining independence in the 1940s. The two countries also have a close relationship with China’s rapidly expanding maritime and naval might, which has claimed a sizable portion of the South China Sea, including territory that is also claimed by Manila and Jakarta.

The Philippines and Malaysia, whose ties continue to be hampered by a protracted disagreement over Sabah, on the eastern border of the island of Borneo, on the other hand, have no unresolved political disputes or territorial problems that affect their alliance. All of this assures that ties have the capacity to improve continuously, essentially irrespective of the political landscape in either capital.

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Marcos leaves Indonesia today and arrives in Singapore where he will meet with Halimah Yacob, the president of Singapore, and Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister, to “discuss the close bilateral relations between the two countries, as well as regional and global issues,” the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said last week.

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