President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is looking forward to establishing better ties with the United States, particularly in addressing the issue of illegal drugs in the country.
Marcos said this after meeting with American lawmakers on August 18.
In a Facebook post, Marcos revealed that he met with the US congressional delegation headed by Senator Edward Markey in Malacañang.
While he did not provide specifics, the President said he was keen on continuing the Philippines’ partnership with its long-time ally in areas, including addressing the illegal drug trade.
“We look forward to continuing our partnership with the US in the areas of renewable energy use, agricultural development, economic reform, and mitigation of drug problems,” he wrote.
Marcos’ meeting with the US lawmakers came a day after the courtesy call of the Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian.
Meanwhile, it was also the first time the President mentioned the country’s partnership with the US in mitigating the drug problem.
Talks about the President’s commitment to the anti-narcotics campaign surfaced after he failed to mention it in his inaugural speech and his first State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Despite this, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said that the Marcos administration is not forgoing the fight against illegal drugs.
“The day-to-day and ongoing activities– these are considered still part of the program, particularly those related to continuity. So just because it wasn’t mentioned doesn’t mean it isn’t there,” she said.
The Palace official added that Marcos was confident that Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin would set policies on how the Marcos administration will handle the problem.
“Tuloy po ang campaign laban sa illegal na droga (The campaign against illegal drugs continues),” Angeles assured the public.
The country’s drug war has been controversial during the time of former President Rodrigo Duterte, wherein allegations of extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses got the attention of different local and international groups, including the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Marcos said last month that the Philippines would not be rejoining the ICC ahead of its investigation of the Duterte-led drug war. Data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) showed that as of May 31, 2022, the infamous campaign resulted in the arrest of 345,126 individuals and the deaths of 6,252 during anti-drug operations.
Before he assumed office, President Marcos said he intended to approach Duterte’s drug war differently.