Metro Manila, Philippines— President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. can invoke his immunity as head of state when visiting the United States, according to a high-ranking US official.

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told reporters in a media briefing on Thursday that Marcos can perform his official duties in Washington without fear of facing legal consequences.

“The fact is when you’re the head of state you have immunity in all circumstances,” Sherman said.

Sherman did not elaborate on the legal process and up to what extent Marcos can avail of his immunity.

Before winning the May 9 polls, Marcos faced the risk of being required to appear in court due to his non-compliance to a class suit ruling against his family. Non-appearance in court could lead to detention or being cited for contempt.

No information was given on whether US President Joe Biden will honor Marcos’ invitation to attend his inauguration.

Strengthening PH-US ties

Sherman met with Marcos earlier in the day to discuss the future of Philippine-US relations.

The discussion included human rights, freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, and inclusive economic partnership.

“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,” she said.

Sherman added that the US is open to reviewing the Visiting Forces Agreement so that it can be updated.

“I am very glad that the Visiting Forces Agreement was reinstated by the current administration in the Philippines. It’s a very important agremeent to ensure the alliance that we’ve had,” she said.