Historic speech from Philippines president makes veiled swipe at China

Ellen RansleyNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

Anthony Albanese has praised the partnership between Australia and the Philippines, saying the countries were united by a vision of a “peaceful, secure, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific”.

Philippines President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr addressed both houses of parliament on Thursday, declaring the Philippines would “not allow any attempt by any foreign power to take even one square inch of our sovereign territory” in a veiled swipe at China.

As the President began to speak, Greens senator Janet Rice held up a sign saying “stop the human rights abuses”.

She was asked to leave the chamber.

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CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA, NewsWire Photos. FEBRUARY 29, 2024: Prime Anthony Albanese welcomes President of the Philippines President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Romualdez Marcos Jr speak in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman
Camera IconPhilippines President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr addressed the joint houses of parliament on Thursday. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: NCA NewsWire

The President seemed unfazed by the commotion, delivering a speech that paid tribute to the 78-year-strong bilateral relationship between the two countries.

He said Australia’s destiny was “irrevocably linked to the destiny of Asia”, declaring the Philippines were “on the front line against actions that undermine regional peace”.

“Our two countries have always understood that without the predictability and stability of our rules-based order, our region would not have emerged as a driver of the global economy as it is today,” he said.

“We have long known that our prosperity and development are anchored on the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific today, that peace, that stability and our continued success have come under threat.”

In his address, which comes days before a special ASEAN-Australia summit in Melbourne, he said Australia and the Philippines must “once again” come together to face the “common challenges” facing the region.

“Not one single country can do this by itself. No single force cannot counter them by themselves,” he said.

Camera IconThe pair said they were united by a vision of a peaceful and stable region. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

“This is why our strategic partnership has grown more important than ever. We must reinforce each other’s strengths. We must protect the peace that we fought for during the war and have jealously guarded in the decades since. We must oppose actions that clearly denigrate the rule of law.”

In his own remarks before Mr Marcos Jr spoke, Mr Albanese also made a veiled swipe at China, saying both Canberra and Manila believe in upholding the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea after the two countries conducted joint naval patrols in the South China Sea late last year.

“Freedom of navigation is fundamental to our sovereignty, our prosperity, our security and our territorial integrity,” Mr Albanese said.

“Our co-operation is an assertion of our national interest and a recognition of our regional responsibility.

“It reflects our shared understanding that peace depends on more than the presence of the great powers.”

He said both Australia and the Philippines, as middle powers, had “our part to play” in ensuring a stable, peaceful and prosperous future.

Camera IconThe pair delivered joint remarks in Canberra on Thursday. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

The pair delivered joint media statements after the address, announcing they had signed a new memorandum of understanding on enhanced maritime cooperation.

“We’ll collaborate even more closely to promote our shared vision of the region, including in civil maritime security, marine environment protection … and promoting respect for international law,” Mr Albanese said.

Mr Albanese said Australia’s economic future was intrinsically linked with southeast Asia, and driving growth in trade and investment would be the focus of the business summit on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit next week.

“The Philippines is one of our fastest growing economies in our region. And there’s great potential to deepen our two-way trade and investment links,” Mr Albanese said.

Originally published as Historic speech from Philippines president makes veiled swipe at China

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