SYDNEY — Philippine president-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. has made a low-key trip to Australia, the Age newspaper reported, bringing some protesters onto the streets of the city of Melbourne on Tuesday.
The protesters gathered outside an address in central Melbourne and said they believed Marcos was on a private visit to Australia.
Mr. Marcos was on a private-trip with his family for a “much needed rest,” his spokesman Victor D. Rodriguez told a news briefing. He is expected to return to the Philippines on Thursday , he added.
The president-elect is the son of disgraced dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos and the return to rule of the political dynasty has divided the country.
The older Mr. Marcos died in exile in Hawaii in 1989.
Under his dictatorship, his family and cronies amassed about $10 billion in ill-gotten wealth, a government-appointed commission found. Tens of thousands of suspected communist rebels and political foes were jailed, beaten or killed.
The Age reported an Australian government spokesperson had confirmed that the Philippine government had informed them of the private visit.
Australia’s foreign affairs department did not respond to a request for comment.
Strengthened relations with the US expected under Marcos presidency
Meanwhile, Philippine-US bilateral relations are expected to be strengthened under Mr. Marcos’s leadership.
“We’re very much looking forward to the new president-elect once he’s inaugurated to further strengthen our alliance,” US Department of State Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel J. Kritenbrink told journalists during a teleconference on Tuesday.
The Philippine presidential frontrunner has received about 31 million votes, according to the partial and unofficial tally released by the Commission on Elections.
Mr. Kritenbrink cited the call between US President Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. and Mr. Marcos, where the US leader cited the need to boost the alliance and expand cooperation on a broad range of issues.
“Our sincere expectation is probably that we find ways to strengthen the bilateral relations between the United States and the Philippines,” saidEdgard D. Kagan, special assistant to the president and senior director for East Asia and Oceania in the National Security Council.
“At the same time, we are able to work effectively in the context of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).”— Alyssa Nicole O. Tan with Reuters