The 2nd highest official of the United States of America will visit the Philippines for the first time since winning the US election last January 2021.
Harris, the first woman to be elected to the second top position in the history of the United States, is arriving in Manila on Sunday evening following her participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Bangkok, Thailand.
On November 20 she is expected to deliver remarks underscoring the importance of international law, unimpeded commerce and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea during her visit in the country.
A senior US administration official said during a background briefing last November 16 in Washington, Harris will visit Puerto Princesa during her visit from Nov. 20 to 22, making her the “highest-ranking US official ever to visit Palawan.
The US senior official also said that on Nov. 21, the US Vice President will have a meeting with VP Duterte and then a longer bilateral meeting with Pres. Marcos. “The focus with President Marcos will be twofold: strengthening our security alliance and economic relationship,” the official added.
As the issue on security is part of the agenda, Harris will reaffirm US defense commitments to the Philippines and the importance of their alliance in peace and stability in the South China Sea. This would be part of the discussion between her and Marcos.
The US Vice president will also commit to work more closely with the Philippines to strengthen the economic partnership and investment ties according to the senior US official.
Also on Monday afternoon, Harris will have an opportunity to meet with civil society and rights activists, this to show the US’s support for human rights and democratic resilience. For her last day of official visit on Tuesday, Nov. 22, she will travel to Puerto Princesa, Palawan where she will reportedly meet with residents, civil society leaders and representatives of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
“This visit demonstrates the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to stand with our Philippine ally in upholding the rules-based international maritime order in the South China Sea, supporting maritime livelihoods and countering illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing,” the official added.
Harris has prioritized maritime cooperation with nations throughout Southeast Asia.
She led the session with ASEAN leaders on maritime security and launched $60 million in new Coast Guard initiatives for Southeast Asia last May 2022 during the US-ASEAN Summit
While in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, as part of her engagement, she will be discussing the impacts of illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing on coastal economies and their livelihoods. “The Vice President feels very strongly about getting outside of government buildings and engaging directly with people who often don’t get to interact with high-ranking US officials,” the official said.