Photo from Bongbong Marcos facebook page

The South China Sea and key regional issues will be included in the discussions among President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his counterparts in Indonesia and Singapore, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Friday.

Marcos is embarking on his inaugural state visits to the two Southeast Asian nations on September 4 to 7.

He will meet with President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, and Singapore President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

“[A]side from discussing bilateral relations, there will be an exchange of views on regional and global developments,” said DFA spokesperson, Ma. Teresita Daza, in a statement.

“As all are actually leaders and members of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), there will clearly be discussions on key regional issues of mutual interest, including the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea issue, cognizant that all three countries are actually – had the common goal to maintain peace and stability and prevent incidents in this particular part of the world – in this part of the world,” she added.

The DFA said the visits reflect the importance Manila places on its relations with Southeast Asian nations.

“As close neighbors and founding members of ASEAN, the Philippines enjoys active engagement with both Indonesia and Singapore in terms of myriad areas including security and defense, trade and investment, people-to-people exchanges and more,” Daza said.

The trips are timed as the region is set to become a “center of global attention”, according to the DFA.

In November, Indonesia will be hosting the G20 Summit; Cambodia, the ASEAN Summit; and Thailand, the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Leaders’ Summit.

Indonesia will also assume the ASEAN chairmanship in 2023.

Ranking officials including Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Budget and Management Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Felipe Medalla will join the delegation.

The President will meet with members of the Filipino community at National University of Singapore’s Ho Bee Auditorium on September 6 at 6 p.m.

Participants must register for limited slots. No walk-ins will be allowed but the event will be livestreamed.

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