FIRST STATE VISIT President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. salutes during the departure ceremony on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022, at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. PHOTO BY JOHN RYAN BALDEMOR
FIRST STATE VISIT President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. salutes during the departure ceremony on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022, at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. PHOTO BY JOHN RYAN BALDEMOR

PRESIDENT Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Sunday morning left for his inaugural state visits to Indonesia and Singapore where he is expected to seal key agreements on defense and security, creative economy, and cultural exchanges.

"Today, I embark upon what I anticipate to be the first of a series of trips that I will be undertaking to our friends, partners, allies around the world," the 64-year-old President said during departure honors at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

"This is to put the Philippines in a position where we have strong alliances and strong partnerships, which are necessary to come out of the post-pandemic economy," he said.

Marcos will be in Indonesia until September 6, after which he will fly to Singapore for a one-day visit.

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He said his visits to the country's neighbors "will seek to harness the potentials of our vibrant trade and investment relations. As such, an economic briefing, business forums and meetings have been organized to proactively create and attract more investments and buyers for our exports, in order to accelerate the post-pandemic growth of our economy."

The President, who also heads the Department of Agriculture, expressed hope he could entice Indonesian firms to invest in the Philippines' agriculture and energy sectors, which he said are "critical areas" to the country's post-pandemic recovery.

He said Philippine and Indonesian foreign ministers are looking forward to signing the five-year Philippines-Indonesia Plan of Action "which commits our two countries to projects and activities covering the full range of our bilateral ties."

The bulk of the President's activities will take place today, including his meeting his Indonesian counterpart, Joko Widodo.

Aside from the Plan of Action, the two leaders will also witness the signing of other key agreements which include the renewal of the 1997 Agreement on Cooperative Activities in the Field of Defense and Security between the Philippine Department of National Defense and the Ministry of Defense of Indonesia, which will serve as the mother framework for all defense and security cooperation, and the renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding on Cultural Cooperation between the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia, which will promote people-to-people exchanges and mutual understanding through cultural activities of the two countries.

The case of Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipino who has been sentenced to death in Indonesia on drug charges, is also "likely" to be taken up by Marcos with Widodo, although no official confirmation has been issued.

The President will also spend time with the Filipino communities in the two countries.

Marcos has designated Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio as officer in charge while he is out of the country.

On Sunday, Malacañang issued Special Order 75 directing Duterte-Carpio to temporarily "take care of the day-to-day operations of the Office of the President and oversee the general administration of the Executive Department" from September 4 to 7.

"All acts of the Vice President for and on behalf of the President pursuant to this Order shall be deemed acts of the President, unless disapproved and reprobated by the President," part of the order read.

Marcos met with members of the Filipino community to personally thank them for being "ambassadors of goodwill" of the Philippines in Indonesia.

Speaking before a packed Filipino crowd at the Fairmont Jakarta Hotel, the Chief Executive thanked the overseas Filipino workers (OFW) based there for "maintaining the good name" of the country.

"I am very happy to see that this kinship and close people to people ties continue to endure as shown by the vitality of the Filipino community here in Indonesia. The Indonesians have such high respect for Filipinos because of you," Marcos said.

"Your good standing in Indonesian society has contributed to sustaining trade, tourism, people to people links between our countries. Your success here makes us all back home very, very, very proud. Every time we hear news of yet another success by our OFWs we are always saying thank you for the glory you bring to our country, for the good name that you burnish and polish of our country while you are abroad. The Filipino truly stands out anywhere in the world," he added.

The President was accompanied by his wife first lady Liza Araneta-Marcos, son Ilocos Norte Rep. Sandro Marcos, House Speaker Martin Romualdez, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Felipe Medalla.

Highlight of his second day in Jakarta will be his meeting with President Widodo.

"We will strengthen further our bilateral relationship as our partnership with Indonesia has already spanned 73 years. We will discuss how both countries can cooperate in security, defense, trade and investment, and cultural exchanges," Marcos said.