US Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in the Philippines on Sunday evening after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation economic leaders meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.
Harris landed at around 6:52 p.m. for her three-day visit to the country.
According to the US Embassy, the US official was welcomed by US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson, US Embassy Philippines Deputy Chief of Mission Heather Variava, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez, Pasay City Mayor Imelda Calixto-Rubiano, Congressman Antonio Calixto, and Spokesperson of the Vice President Reynold Munsayac.
Harris will meet with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte on Monday, November 21, and visit Palawan—one of the Philippines’ closest territories to the disputed South China Sea—on Tuesday, November 22.
Harris would be the highest-ranking American official to visit the island adjacent to the Spratly Islands.
The US Vice President's planned a visit to Palawan comes six years after the Philippines scored a landmark legal victory against China over Beijing’s claims in areas that fall within Manila’s exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.
China has refused to acknowledge the ruling by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration and continued to assert its presence in the strategic waterway despite diplomatic protests from the Philippines.
On Saturday, Marcos said that Harris’ visit to Palawan would not negatively affect the relationship between the Philippines and China.
“I don’t see why they should. She is in the Philippines and she is visiting another part of the Philippines. And of course, it is the closest area to the South China Sea, but it’s very clearly on Philippine territory, so I don’t think there should be… I don’t think it will cause any problems,” Marcos said. — DVM, GMA Integrated News