Marcos flying to Indonesia, Singapore on first foreign trip

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will travel to Indonesia and Singapore on his first overseas trip since taking office in June to strengthen security ties and discuss problems confronting the region, including strife in Myanmar, officials said Friday.

Marcos Jr. will also fly to the United States to speak at the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 20, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Teresita Daza said in an online news conference.

Marcos Jr. will meet his Indonesian counterpart, Joko Widodo, during a three-day state visit starting Sunday.

The two leaders will witness the signing of a number of agreements, including the renewal of an expired 1997 pact governing defense activities from joint training to cooperation on border security, Daza said.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo, who will accompany the president, will meet separately with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on Sunday.

Manalo has said that Marcos Jr. intends to raise the case of Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipino housemaid on death row in Indonesia on drug trafficking charges. Arrested in 2010, Veloso has claimed innocence, saying she was duped into carrying a suitcase containing 2.6 kilograms (5.7 pounds) of heroin.

In Singapore, Marcos Jr. will meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Halimah Yacob during a two-day state visit that starts Tuesday.

He and Lee will witness the signing of accords on counterterrorism and data protection and privacy, Daza said.

The Philippine leader will also meet potential investors in Singapore and Indonesia, she said.

His talks in both countries will include regional issues such as long-unresolved territorial disputes in the South China Sea involving the Philippines, China and four other claimants, and the turmoil in Myanmar, Philippine diplomats said.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore, has been under international pressure to do more to end violence and free political prisoners in Myanmar, which also belongs to the 10-nation bloc.

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