MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of the Commonwealth of Australia reaffirmed their commitment to deepen the bilateral relations between their countries as they elevated their ties to a strategic partnership on Friday.
The two leaders held a joint press conference after a luncheon hosted by President Marcos at Malacañang Palace, where they announced the signing of several agreements on trade, defense, education, health, and development cooperation.
President Marcos said the visit of Prime Minister Albanese was a “celebration and commitment of fostering a new era of partnership” between the Philippines and Australia, which have been diplomatic allies for over 75 years.
“The visit of the Prime Minister is an extremely important one as we have made many agreements between the Philippines, the most important of which is the elevation of our relationship as comprehensive to strategic partners,” he said.
“This solidifies the work that we have been trying to do in helping one another to maintain the peace in our region,” he added.
Prime Minister Albanese, who is on his first official visit to the Philippines since taking office in 2022, expressed his appreciation for the warm hospitality and friendship of President Marcos and the Filipino people.
He said Australia values its partnership with the Philippines as a “key partner in Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific region.”
“We share common interests and values in promoting democracy, human rights, rule of law, and regional stability,” he said.
He also praised the Philippines for its “remarkable progress” in combating the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic recovery efforts.
He said Australia will continue to support the Philippines in its vaccination program, as well as in its response to natural disasters and security challenges.
The two leaders also discussed regional and global issues, such as the South China Sea dispute, climate change, counter-terrorism, and cyber security.
They agreed to enhance their cooperation in these areas through regular dialogues, joint exercises, and capacity-building initiatives.
They also vowed to work together with other countries and multilateral organizations to address common challenges and opportunities.
President Marcos and Prime Minister Albanese also witnessed the signing of several memoranda of understanding (MOUs) on various fields of cooperation, such as:
- MOU on Trade and Investment Cooperation
- MOU on Defense Cooperation
- MOU on Education Cooperation
- MOU on Health Cooperation
- MOU on Development Cooperation
The two leaders also exchanged gifts and cultural items as a symbol of their friendship and goodwill.
President Marcos presented Prime Minister Albanese with a painting of a Philippine eagle by Filipino artist Fernando Amorsolo, while Prime Minister Albanese gave President Marcos a boomerang made by an indigenous Australian artist.
The visit of Prime Minister Albanese marks the first visit of an Australian Prime Minister to the Philippines since 2003, when then-Prime Minister John Howard met with then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.