TWO vibrant democracies that are committed to each other in strength and prosperity. This is how US Secretary of State John Kerry described the immutable partnership between the United States and the Philippines.
Kerry, who arrived in Manila on December 17, said that he sees a bright future in the US-PH bilateral relations. He vowed that the US will continue to work with its counterpart, so that exchanges between the two nations will be more efficient and will be easier.
With 300,000 American citizens living in the Philippines and millions of Filipinos in the US, who contribute in so many ways to America’s diverse cultural heritage, Kerry believes that this is one of the most enduring aspects of such partnership, the binding ties, the personal ties between people.
The former Massachusetts senator also spoke about his personal connections to the country. He reminisced that he participated in the snap election called on by then President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. He described the experience as an accountable election to make certain that democracy was restored in the Philippines.
“I worked with then-to-become President Cory Aquino and with NAMFREL and others, and I’m proud that during that period of time, I got to travel around the Philippines and see people voting. And I’ll never forget the look on the faces of people who were voting for the first time, and the yellow shirts and waving their pro-democracy banners,” Kerry recalled.
According to Kerry, the courage demonstrated by Filipinos back then, lit a spark that traveled around the world, inspiring not just him, but also popular movements from Eastern Europe to Burma.
Kerry also recognized the long tradition of working together between Filipinos and Americans, “from countering extremism to strengthening our economic ties, our maritime security, to fighting poverty and creating the conditions for broad-based prosperity and growth.”
To renew this partnership, Kerry said the US will assist the Philippines in addressing its most pressing security challenges, particularly the simmering tensions surrounding the territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea.
Aside from the ongoing negotiation of an increased rotational presence of American forces in the Philippines, Kerry also presented a $40-million security aid, to help improve the country’s maritime security and domain awareness.
He also clarified that this is not a move against China and does not mean the United States is taking sides. Kerry stressed that claimants are responsible in asserting their claims in accordance to international law. Kerry further stressed that the US fully supports the resolution of sovereignty disputes through international mechanisms such as the United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS). The US opposes intimidation and coercion in order for countries to lay its claims on a particular territory.
In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, Kerry marveled at the Filipino spirit. Kerry noted that the whole world stand witness to the resilience of the Filipino people in responding to the terrible devastation brought about by the typhoon.
“The world has seen your strength and the strength of your people, and we admire it,” Kerry said.
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario earlier thanked Kerry for the immediate assistance sent by the US, in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.
Del Rosario noted that apart from the expressions of sympathy (from President Barack Obama to the whole nation) the assistance included search-and-rescue teams, relief operations, as well logistics, including 50 to over 50 aircraft and sea vessels.
Kerry accepted Del Rosario’s gratitude and vowed that this assistance will continue, until the dauntless task of recovery and reconstruction is finished.
“We will continue to be present and [to be] accounted for in our relationships and in our efforts in this region,” Kerry said while promising the US full commitment in helping the Filipino people realize their full promise.
The US has continuously recognized the Philippines as an indispensable partner for upholding vital American interests in the region.
This time-tested relationship has brought greater regional stability and security. These bring political, economic, and strategic benefits to both Filipinos and Americans.
As Kerry noted, these ties will only continue to flourish as both countries continue to commit on the same goals.
“As we meet today’s challenges and chart a path forward together, we draw strength from the principle of the foundation of our shared history, and we look forward to strengthening our relationship.”
(AJPress)

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