Flag Fiasco Scandal Between Philippines and Canada Meeting

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asean indonesia canada bilateral

In a rather unusual turn of events during the sideline meeting between President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, an unexpected flag-related incident has stirred controversy.

During their bilateral discussion on September 6, the diplomatic world witnessed an unprecedented protocol breach. While President Marcos and Prime Minister Trudeau conversed on subjects ranging from bilateral relations to the Filipino diaspora in Canada, the attention of many was drawn to the Philippine flag displayed behind Trudeau. Shockingly, the flag was hanging upside down, with the red portion above the blue, a display reserved for times of war as specified in the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines.

Social Media Eruption

Social media erupted with posts from Philippine government officials, with House Speaker Martin Romualdez being among the first to comment on the anomaly. Many posts deliberately cropped out the upside-down flag, attempting to downplay the blunder. President Marcos himself appeared to share a photo in which the Philippine flag had been conspicuously edited out.

Curiously, Malacañang, the official residence of the Philippine President, remained silent on the protocol faux pas, leaving many to speculate about the incident’s implications. 

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) promised to issue a statement but had not done so at the time of this writing.

Trudeau’s Invitation: A Silver Lining?

Despite the flag-related controversy, the Palace managed to salvage some positive news. In a press release, it was announced that Prime Minister Trudeau had extended an invitation to President Marcos to visit Canada in 2024, coinciding with the 75th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two nations. This offers a glimmer of hope for improved relations between Manila and Ottawa.

Bilateral meetings, like the one between President Marcos and Prime Minister Trudeau, are meticulously planned affairs, with key details often decided at the last minute. Protocol plays a significant role, and the individuals accompanying the heads of state or government reflect a nation’s priorities. 

These meetings are typically private, with only a select group of media representatives allowed to cover the opening statements before being ushered out of the room.

President Marcos and Prime Minister Trudeau have crossed paths on previous occasions, both informally and formally. Their initial encounters occurred during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Thailand and an ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 

However, those meetings did not witness the flag-related controversy that has marked this recent encounter, making it an event that is sure to be remembered for years to come.

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