Philippine President Bongbong Marcos Jr meets thousands of adoring fans at S'pore's NUS

This is Marcos Jr's first overseas visit since become president, with the first leg being a visit to Indonesia.

Tan Min-Wei | September 07, 2022, 10:08 PM

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Philippines President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr was in Singapore from Sep. 6 to Sep. 7.

During his trip, he gave a speech to over a thousand Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) at the National University of Singapore's Ho Bee Auditorium.

Strong support from resident Filipinos

According to PhilStar Global, the auditorium had over 1,500 Filipinos, many of whom were OFWs, representing some of the estimated 200,000 Filipinos working in Singapore. Marcos Jr, son of late Filipino strongman Ferdinand Marcos, spoke to them on the evening of Sep. 6.

Marcos Jr praised their industry, and their contribution to the Philippines, noting that OFWs in Singapore were the country's second highest source of remittances. In 2021, they remitted US$2.2 billion (S$ 3.1 billion) to the Philippines, a sum he said was not to be "taken lightly".

According to Filipino newspaper the Inquirer, Marcos Jr was strongly supported by Filipinos voting in Singapore; backing him and his running mate Sara Duterte.

The gathered crowd enthusiastically welcomed their president, cheering and waving flags. They also rushed to take pictures with him after the event. One member of the audience was warmly greeted by First Lady Louise Araneta-Marcos, recognising him as Larry Gabon who recently ran for the Philippines senate under Marcos Jr's UniTeam banner.

@marcosduterte04 Paano ulit Gulat Bongbong at Liza nung makita si Larry Gadon sa Singapore? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA #fyp #uniteam #bongbongmarcos #lizamarcos #larrygadon ♬ original sound - Saramylove!!

Bilateral agreements and healthcare

Marcos Jr is in Singapore for two days, the second leg of his first overseas trip as president. His first stop was to meet with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Marcos Jr was met at gate in Changi Airport by Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, and met with President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

According to Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, several bilateral agreements were signed by the two governments relating to counterterrorism, digital cooperation, and data protection.

Another point was that of increased cooperation between Singapore and the Philippines that would "pave the way for the continued deployment of Filipino healthcare professionals to Singapore as well as greater bilateral cooperation in the field of healthcare", a point that Marcos Jr foreshadowed in his NUS speech.

Marcos Jr and PM Lee also spoke about regional developments, affirming Asean's position on the South China Sea, emphasising the maintenance of peace and stability in the South China Sea, as well as freedom of navigation and overflight. The Philippines has several disputes in the area with other Asean members, as well as China.

They also expressed concern over the ongoing crisis in Myanmar, calling for the release of political detainees such as State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and adherence to Asean's Five Point Consensus.

Orchid and state visits

Earlier on Sep. 7, Marcos Jr and First Lady Araneta-Marcos were presented with an orchid named after both of them, the Dendrobium Ferdinand Louise Marcos. The naming of orchids after foreign dignitaries is a tradition often carried out by Singapore. 

This is the first set of state visits by Marcos Jr since taking office. According to the Inquirer, his office is also planning a state visit to the United States. This was considered tricky at one point as Marcos Jr has been charged in U.S. courts with offences related to his father's illegal acquisition of his estate, as well as accusations of human rights offences committed during the time of Marcos Sr's government.

However, as Marcos Jr will have diplomatic immunity as his country's sitting president, the way appears to have been cleared for a future state visit.

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Top image by Bongbong Marcos/Facebook & Halimah Yacob/Facebook