Biden, Xi congratulate BBM, affirm robust ties with PHL

UNITED States President Joe Biden called presumptive Philippine president Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. and the two men discussed a common wish to strengthen ties in trade and diplomacy, among others, the office of Marcos Jr. and the White House separately confirmed.

Also on Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated Marcos and called him the “17th president” of the republic.

“I am honored to forward the congratulatory message from H.E. President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China on your elections as president of the Republic of the Philippines,” said Huang Xilian, Ambassador of China to the Philippines in a letter addressed to Marcos.

As for the Biden phone call, “It was a brief phone call, but US President Joe Biden’s telephone conversation with Philippine President-elect Ferdinand could be one of the most important messages for his incoming administration,” said a press statement from Marcos’s camp.

Biden called Marcos around 9 a.m. (local time) and congratulated him on his overwhelming victory that saw him garnering more than 31 million votes, in a near-complete unofficial tally validated by the ongoing official count.

“President Biden told him Washington is looking forward to working with him and cited the shared history of the longtime treaty allies,” Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez told The Associated Press, adding the two spoke for more than 10 minutes.

Marcos was grateful for the acknowledgement of his victory by the American president, said his office, which added that the two leaders spoke of strengthening of ties in trade and diplomacy, as well as their common interest in democracy, self-determination, economic recovery.

Marcos assured Biden that “the Philippines has always held the United States in high regard as a friend, an ally, and a partner.”

“I have also invited President Biden to my inaugural on June 30, which could further fortify the relationship of the two countries,” he said. A statement released by the White House later confirmed the conversation between Biden and Marcos.

“President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. spoke today with President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Philippines to congratulate him on his election,” the statement said.

It added that President Biden underscored that he looks forward to working with the President-elect to continue strengthening the US-Philippine Alliance, while expanding bilateral cooperation on a wide range of issues, including the fight against Covid-19, addressing the climate crisis, promoting broad-based economic growth, and respect for human rights.

The US is the Philippines’s traditional ally and their friendship was cast in stone in 1946, right after they emerged victorious against Imperial Japan during the 2nd World War.

Biden is hosting leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Washington DC this week, but President Duterte begged off from attending, as the event comes a day after elections. He is being represented by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr.

China hails polls, BBM

The government of China joined the growing number of members of international community, in commending the country for conducting smooth and credible conduct of the May 9 national and local elections.

“I am honored to forward the congratulatory message from H.E. President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China on your elections as president of the Republic of the Philippines,” said Huang Xilian, Ambassador of China to the Philippines in a letter addressed to Marcos.

“Again, on behalf of the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines and in my own name, I would like to convey my heartfelt congratulations on Your Excellency’s election as the 17th President of the Philippines,” the letter added.

The official added that they are looking forward to working with the new administration to “bring our relationship of comprehensive strategic cooperation to new heights.”

Strong mandate: 31-M votes

Marcos Jr. had more than 31 million votes in the unofficial count from Monday’s elections in what’s projected to be one of the strongest mandates for a Philippine president in decades. His vice presidential running mate, Sara Duterte, appeared to have also won by a landslide.

Marcos Jr. declared victory Wednesday, saying his electoral triumph is a boost to democracy and promised to seek common ground across the political divide, his spokesman, Vic Rodriguez, said.

“To the world: Judge me not by my ancestors, but by my actions,” Rodriguez quoted Marcos Jr. as saying.

The election outcome was an astonishing reversal of the army-backed but largely peaceful “People Power” uprising that ousted Marcos’s father in 1986—a democratic triumph in Southeast Asia where authoritarian regimes flourish.

Marcos Jr., 64, campaigned on a vague national unity theme while avoiding volatile issues in an effort hard-line leftist groups and survivors of the elder Marcos’s dictatorship likened to whitewashing of his father’s crimes. On Tuesday, he appeared overcome with emotions while visiting his father’s grave—which was moved to the national heroes’ cemetery under current President Duterte.

Several of Marcos Jr.’s key election rivals have conceded defeat, though the closest challenger, Vice President Leni Robredo, has only acknowledged his massive lead. The US State Department said the elections and subsequent vote count followed international standards without any major incident.

The tabulated results still must be confirmed by Congress. With a report by AP