NEW YORK, USA — Malacañang is insisting that the meeting with President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was the only one that US President Joseph Biden granted explicitly for the sidelines of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and that the other requests were made even before the said event.
Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said this after Marcos’ critics accused the Palace of lying after pointing out that Biden met with at least other world leaders this week aside from Marcos, including Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and French President Emmanuel Macron.
In a statement, Angeles explained that President Biden’s other meetings were agreed on even before the UNGA but were “postponed” and moved to this week.
“Ang ibang mga meeting ni Pangulong Biden ay mga dati nang napagkasunduan, pero na postpone at itinuloy na lamang sa pagkakataon na ito (President Biden’s other meetings were scheduled long ago, but these were postponed and they decided to reset those meetings at this opportunity),” she said.
“Ipagpaunmanhin nawa ang kaunting kalituhan sa naunang statement (We apologize for the confusion caused by our earlier statement),” she added.
Angeles reiterated that the White House granted only Marcos’ request for a meeting specifically for the UNGA sidelines.
“Marami pong ibang nakiusap nguni’t ang napagbigyan lamang ay ang kahilingan ng bansang Pilipinas (Many other countries have made the same requests but only the Philippines’ request was granted),” she said.
“Kaya’t kita ang kahalagahan ng miting na ito ng dalawang lider (That’s why the importance of this meeting between the two leaders was evident),” she added.
Angeles earlier claimed that there were 48 requests for a bilateral meeting with President Biden made to the White House, including the Philippines’ request.
Marcos and Biden met on the morning of September 22 (New York time). During their meeting, both leaders reflected on the importance of the Philippines-US alliance.
Biden reaffirmed the USA’s “ironclad commitment” to the defense of the Philippines. The leaders discussed the situation in the South China Sea and underscored their support for freedom of navigation and overflight and the peaceful resolution of disputes.
Both leaders likewise discussed opportunities to expand bilateral cooperation on various issues, including energy security, climate action, and infrastructure.
Meanwhile, Marcos and Biden discussed Russia’s war against Ukraine and its implications for energy prices and food security, Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN) matters, the crisis in Myanmar, and the importance of respect for human rights.