Philippine president in Hawaii for 2-day visit with U.S. military leaders, Filipino supporters

Marcos Jr. then flew to Honolulu on Saturday evening for a two-day visit to meet with leaders from the Filipino community and the U.S. military.
Published: Nov. 18, 2023 at 11:40 AM HST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2023 at 1:19 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. arrived in Honolulu on Saturday evening for a two-day visit to meet with leaders from the U.S. military and the local Filipino community.

It caps off a three-city visit to the United States, which included the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco that included U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese president Xi Jinping, and meetings with community leaders in Los Angeles.

Marcos landed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam on Saturday around 8:30 p.m. and was greeted by Governor Josh Green, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi, Representatives Ed Case and Jill Tokuda, and other state officials.

His team proceeded to a private event at the Hawaii Convention Center, meeting with hundreds of Filipino community leaders, many of whom backed Marcos Jr. in a landslide election.

“We had nothing with us; everything was inspected. These are the people who kept body and soul together of the Marcos family,” Marcos Jr. said in his speech.

“I ask all of you to continue to be supportive of your government of the Philippines. You have worked hard to build your lives here. You are the glue that holds us together.”

Marcos also talked about the strong ties between the Philippines and the U.S. and expressed sympathy for those who died in the Maui wildfires.

This is Marcos’ first visit back to the islands since his family was forced to flee the Philippines in 1986 after his father former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr, was ousted after the EDSA “People Power” Revolution. Marcos Sr. eventually died in Honolulu in 1989.

The family faced investigations into corruption and human rights violations, though supporters dismiss the claims as tactics by political opponents. On Saturday, about 40 protestors gathered at the airport and center ahead of his arrival.

On Sunday, Marcos Jr. will meet with Indo-Pacific Command leaders, including Admiral John Aquilino, and speak at a private event at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, a U.S. Department of Defense institute. His speech and Q&A will be livestreamed here.

Protesters with the group Hawaii Filipinos for Truth say they plan to hold demonstrations at the airport and convention center on Saturday. In a press release, they say they want Marcos Jr. held accountable for not complying with a 1995 Hawaii District Court order to pay $2 billion in reparations to victims during his father’s rule.

Many Filipinos in Hawaii support the Marcos family because of a shared connection to the Ilocos Norte region. More than 80% of Filipinos in Hawaii are Ilocano.

John Hemmings, Senior Director of the Pacific Forum’s Indo-Pacific Program, joined HNN’s Sunrise Weekends to talk about takeaways from the APEC Summit. The group represents almost half of global trade and aims to improve members’ economies.

Leaders from the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum met this week

Biden and Marcos Jr. each met with Xi in separate meetings, seeking ways to reduce tensions with the superpower.

Marcos told reporters at the summit that he discussed the South China Sea with Xi and sought to restore Filipino fishermen’s access to fishing grounds, amid recent clashes in waters Beijing claims as its own. A 2016 international ruling invalidated China’s claim.

The meeting comes as Marcos inked a nuclear energy deal with the U.S. and continues to expand America’s access to military bases in the Philippines.