SONA 2022 Promise Tracker


In his first year in office, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has visited 10 countries to “reintroduce the Philippines” to the world as a business destination and to reinvigorate cooperation with neighboring states and allies.

In pursuit of an independent foreign policy, Marcos uses a “friend to all, enemy to none” strategy “with the end goal of mutually beneficial outcomes” for the Philippines and partner states. He assured Filipinos that such partnerships will not compromise even “one square inch of the [country’s] territory.”

However, Marcos admitted that the Philippines is walking a “very fine line” in balancing foreign relations. He said the Philippines must refrain from embracing the “cold war mentality” without having to choose between global powers such as the United States, Russia and China.

“I think we are determined as a group in ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] and in the Indo-Pacific, those around the Indo-Pacific, despite all of these conflicts, we are determined to stay away from that,” Marcos said during his visit to Switzerland last January.

Departing from the Duterte administration’s stance, Marcos has ignited warmer relations with the U.S. through the conduct of the “largest ever” “Balikatan” military exercise with over 17,600 Filipinos and American soldiers participating last April. The U.S. said the Philippines is its largest recipient of U.S. military assistance, equipment and training in the Indo-Pacific region, amounting to over P57 billion since 2015.

Marcos visited the U.S. twice in seven months. His first official trip outside Southeast Asia brought him to New York City where he attended the 77th United Nations General Assembly in September 2022, followed by his bilateral meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington D.C. last May.

The Philippines remains in a territorial conflict with China despite a 2016 arbitral court’s decision that voided its nine-dash line claim over an area covering almost the entire South China Sea. Despite the tension, China remains the Philippines’ largest trading partner as of May 2023.

Among the latest incidents of Chinese incursions in the Philippine waters are the swarming of 48 Chinese fishing vessels in Iroquois Reef and the presence of three China Coast Guard ships and two People’s Liberation Army Navy vessels in Sabina Reef near the Recto Bank.

In April, China disapproved a joint statement by the U.S. and the Philippines calling for recognition of the arbitral win of the Philippines. It also raised concerns over the four additional sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) of the Philippines and the U.S. due to their close proximity to Taiwan.

Marcos argued that the four new EDCA locations would be used for humanitarian and relief operations during disasters in cooperation with U.S. troops. The four new sites are in the Naval Base Camilo Osias and Lal-lo Airport in Cagayan, Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Isabela, and Balabac Island in Palawan.

Here’s how Marcos fared in his State of the Nation Address promise on foreign relations:

Stand firm for independent foreign policy, with national interest as primordial guide

[I]n the area of foreign policy, I will not preside over any process that will abandon even one square inch of territory of the Republic of the Philippines to any foreign power. With respect to our place in the community of nations, the Philippines shall continue to be a friend to all, an enemy to none … We will stand firm in our independent foreign policy, with the national interest as our primordial guide. (SONA 2022)

  • Under the Marcos administration, the Department of Foreign Affairs had sent 97 note verbales or diplomatic protests to China over  the illegal presence of Chinese vessels in Philippine waters.
  • In May, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources installed five navigational buoys on Patag Island, Balagtas Reef, Kota Island, Panata Island, and Julian Felipe Reef. The PCG said at least 10 buoys have been installed in the West Philippine Sea as of May 15, with six more to be planted this year. National Security Adviser Eduardo Año said the navigational buoys serve as markers of the Philippines’ boundaries for its exclusive economic zone.
  • Under the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028, the Marcos administration laid down four main strategies to preserve territorial integrity and uphold sovereignty, first of which is upholding the 2016 South China Sea arbitral decision. The others include pursuing greater regional and international dialogues, developing a modern, credible and self-reliant military force, and strengthening the capacity of institutions in security assessment, operations and response to geopolitical developments.
  • Aside from the United States, the Philippines has reaffirmed its defense and maritime cooperation with Japan and Australia, respectively.
  • In November 2022, the Philippines and South Korea agreed to elevate their bilateral relations into a strategic partnership such as maritime cooperation.

Find out how Marcos Jr. fared in other sectors

Have you seen any dubious claims, photos, memes, or online posts that you want us to verify? Fill out this reader request form or send it to VERA, the truth bot on Viber.

Radio Television Malacañang, Official and state visits, accessed July 7, 2023

Radio Television Malacañang, Microsites, accessed July 7, 2023, Palace confirms Bongbong Marcos’ ‘productive’ weekend trip to Singapore, Oct. 3, 2022, ‘Insensitive, callous’: Marcos criticized over ‘luxurious’ Singapore Grand Prix trip, Oct. 3, 2022

CNN Philippines, Palace: Marcos’ trip to Singapore on F1 weekend ‘productive’, Oct. 3, 2022

Presidential Communications Office, PBBM: Asia-Pacific can prosper without embracing Cold War mentality, Jan. 16, 2023

Radio Television Malacañang official YouTube channel, Welcome Lunch Hosted by the Philippine Economic Development Cabinet Cluster 01/16/2023, Jan. 17, 2023

United States Embassy in the Philippines, Philippine, U.S. Troops to Hold Largest Ever Balikatan Exercise from April 11 to 28, April 4, 2023

United States Embassy in the Philippines, Fact Sheet: U.S.-Philippines Defense and Security Partnership, Feb. 11, 2022

Radio Television Malacañang, Participation of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to the 77th United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 18, 2022

Presidential Communications Office, PH, US renew vow to bolster alliance ‘in face of new economy’ during PBBM, Biden Washington meeting, May 1, 2023

Permanent Court of Arbitration, Arbitral tribunal decision on the South China Sea arbitration, July 12, 2016

Philippine Statistics Authority, Highlights of the Philippine Export and Import Statistics May 2023 (Preliminary), July 11, 2023

Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command official Facebook page, AFP reports Chinese vessel swarming in Iroquois and Sabina, highlights threat to Recto Bank security., July 7, 2023

Foreign Ministry of China, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on April 12, 2023, April 12, 2023

United States Department of State, Joint Statement of the U.S.-Philippines 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue – United States Department of State, April 11, 2023

Presidential Communications Office, PBBM: EDCA sites won’t be used for ‘offensive action’ but a chance to bolster PH territorial defense initiatives, April 10, 2023

Department of Foreign Affairs, Number of note verbales against China (electronic message), July 6, 2023

Philippine Coast Guard official Facebook page,  Announcement on the arrival of contingents who installed the navigational buoys, May 15, 2023

National Economic Development Authority, Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028, accessed July 7, 2023

Presidential Communications Office, Security cooperation with the US would ‘just keep going’, May 2, 2023

Presidential Communications Office, PBBM, Japan PM agree to enhance defense ties through reciprocal port calls, defense equipment transfer, Feb. 9, 2023

Presidential Communications Office, Australia announces maritime cooperation package for PH, increased ODA, May 19, 2023

Presidential Communications Office, PH, SoKor agree to elevate relations in bid to enhance security, infra cooperation, Nov. 12, 2022

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)