PBBM: Talks with Biden will tackle defense, climate


PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said he will be discussing the “evolution” of the country’s defense agreements and climate change initiatives with United States President Joe Biden during their meeting next month.

In his interview with broadcaster and former Social Welfare Secretary Erwin T. Tulfo on Monday, Marcos said among the top issues he will raise in the meeting will be updating the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the US.

The MDT allows the Philippines and the US to provide support to each other if either country is attacked by a third party.

Meanwhile, the VFA allows US troops to operate within the country’s territories.

Marcos said both agreements should be “evolved” to take into account the brewing international tensions in the South China Sea, Taiwan and North Korea.

“What can we do to reduce rhetoric [in the accords] because the exchange of words [on the issues] are now becoming more serious, that is why we are now worried by them,” Marcos said.

In December, the President announced there is an ongoing review of the MDT to rationalize its provisions, particularly on the conduct of joint exercises, and the use of the country’s bases by US forces under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

The result of the review was scheduled to be completed early this year.  Marcos is also eyeing how the country can access the “green bonds” from the US, which can be used for local climate-change mitigation measures.

“This means they will give funds to help fix [climate change issues]. For example, relocation for no-build zones,” Marcos explained.

The additional funding, he said, can boost efforts to address the effects of climate change.

Aside from military issues and climate change, Marcos said other matters which may be tackled in his talk with Biden are economic issues as well as tourism and healthcare.

The bilateral meeting between Marcos and Biden will be held at the White House in Washington D.C. on May 1, 2023.

Image credits: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images