Marcos Jr can travel to US as head of state, says top official
President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr would be “welcome” to the United States given his diplomatic immunity as a head of state, a top Washington diplomat pointed out on Thursday.
“The fact is, when you’re a head of state, you have immunity in all circumstances and are welcome to the United States in your official role,” US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told reporters in a roundtable discussion in Pasay City when asked on the matter.
Before this, she capped off a day of meetings with Philippine officials, including Marcos Jr and outgoing Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.
In 2012, a US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit handed down a contempt judgment against Marcos Jr, his mother Imelda, and the estate of Ferdinand Marcos Sr for violating an injunction that barred them from dissipating assets of the estate.
The contempt order came after the Marcoses entered into a settlement with the Ramos administration in 1992 and agreed to share their wealth with the Philippines government. It was considered a violation of the 1991 decision of the US District Court of Hawaii prohibiting the Marcos family from touching their US assets because these were the source of potential payment of damages to the human rights victims of martial law.
Thousands of martial law victims won a class-action lawsuit for human rights violations against the estate of Marcos Sr in Hawaii in 1986, where they were awarded close to US$2 billion.
The contempt award also meant that the Marcoses would not be allowed to set foot on any US territory.
This issue was earlier raised during the first press conference of Marcos Jr’s then-campaign spokesperson Victor Rodriguez. A reporter had asked how the then-presumptive president, as the country’s top diplomat, could travel to the United States given the contempt order, but Rodriguez ignored this and subsequent questions about the issue.
Sherman also stressed the “robust” relations between Manila and Washington, which spans 75 years.
She met with Marcos Jr earlier on Thursday and had a “positive” and “productive” meeting where they discussed a wide range of topics, including ensuring freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and human rights.
So far, Sherman is the highest US official that Marcos Jr has met since his proclamation as the country’s president.
“The friendship between the United States and the Philippines runs deep. And so, too, does our shared commitment to upholding and strengthening the rules-based international order,” Sherman told reporters.
“The Philippines has been a leader and a champion for upholding freedom of navigation in the South China Sea in the face of increasing encroachments,” she said.
“The United States remains committed to standing with the government of the Philippines to uphold the rules and laws underpinning the international maritime order, and we have spoken up against infringements of the Philippines’ sovereign rights.”
Sherman said she was pleased to meet Marcos as part of her 10-day Asian swing that includes South Korea, Vietnam and Laos.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
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