Marcos: Gov’t eyeing ‘stronger’ tripartite alliance with US, Japan

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 12) — The Philippines is considering strengthening its tripartite alliance with the United States and Japan, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. told foreign media.

The Presidential Communications Office announced this on Sunday, citing Marcos’ interview with Kyodo News during his Japan visit.

“It is something that we certainly are going to be studying upon my return to the Philippines. I think just part of the continuing process of strengthening our alliances because in this rather confusing, and I dare say dangerous situations, that we have,” Marcos said.

“I’m not talking only about the South China Sea, I’m not only talking about the Indo-Pacific region but, of course, there is a conflict still ongoing in Ukraine and the rather disturbing effects that it has all around the world,” he added.

Marcos was referring to China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea, tensions in the region amid pressure to side with global powers, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“So that is, I think, a central element to providing some sort of stability in the face of all these problems that we are seeing around us,” he said.

He also said the proposed tripartite agreement is part of a continuous and ongoing process to form solid partnerships and alliances “that we are beginning to put together in our areas.”

In a separate interview with reporters during his flight back to Manila, Marcos clarified that the Philippines will only enter into such a deal if it will not be perceived as “provocative.”

“Lagi tayo nagsasabi gusto natin mapayapa, hindi magulo...Kung tayo pa gagawa ng— we will instigate and increase the tensions, eh ‘yun ang talagang dapat nating iwasan,” he said

“It's something that we have to pay attention to…that anything that we do will not be seen as provocative to anyone, and it will not have...the opposite effect of what we want,” he continued.

Earlier, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan, the Philippines and the United States plan to hold an “in-depth exchange of views” on regional and international situations, including working towards "a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

During Marcos' five-day Japan trip, he and Kishida also inked the Terms of Reference on the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) activities of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) in the Philippines. This streamlined the JSDF’s visitation procedures to the country and strengthened HADR cooperation.

Marcos and Kishida also agreed to strengthen the two countries’ security relations through strategic port recalls and aircraft visits, and the transfer of more defense equipment and technology.

On Saturday, House Speaker Martin Romualdez bared to Filipino reporters in Tokyo that a Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and Japan may be in the works.