Harris reaffirms US pledge to defend PH | The Manila Times


(UPDATE) The United States has an “unwavering” commitment to the Philippines, US Vice President Kamala Harris said Monday during her meeting with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Malacañang.

“We stand with you in upholding international rules and norms regarding the South China Sea,” he told Marcos.

“An attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke the US mutual defense commitment … that is our unwavering commitment to the Philippines,” Harris said.

The vice president is the highest-ranking US official to visit Manila since Marcos took power in June, signaling a growing rapport between the longtime allies after years of strained relations under his friendly predecessor with Beijing, Rodrigo Duterte.

He reiterated that the alliance between the United States and the Philippines “is strong and enduring.” “When we think about what is happening in this region, we know that there are so many opportunities to continue to strengthen our relationship, that the foundation of our relationship is based on mutual commitments to international rules and norms and compliance with those international rules. and rules in every way that we know how to enable prosperity and security for our respective nations in the region again,” he said.

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Close Allies President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. welcomes US Vice President Kamala Harris to Malacañang. Contributed photo

Close Allies President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. welcomes US Vice President Kamala Harris to Malacañang. Contributed photo

Harris also met with her Philippine counterpart, Sara Duterte.

Marcos said he does not “see a future for the Philippines that does not include the United States.”

The United States has a long and complex relationship with the Philippines and the Marcos family. Marcos’ father was president for two decades, and Washington valued him as a reliable ally during the Cold War.

Relations between the two countries soured under Duterte.

In 2016, Duterte called US President Barack Obama a “son of a bitch” over warnings that the US would question him over his controversial war on drugs.

Washington is now looking to consolidate its security alliance with Manila under the new president.

This includes a 2014 mutual defense treaty and pact, known by the acronym EDCA, that allows the US military to store defense equipment and supplies at five Philippine bases.

It also allows US troops to rotate through these military bases.

The EDCA stalled under Duterte, but the US and the Philippines have expressed support for speeding up its implementation as China becomes increasingly assertive.

On Tuesday, Harris will visit Palawan, which lies along the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

While in Manila, Harris is set to launch a wide range of initiatives to strengthen bilateral ties between Washington and Manila, including a negotiation of the “123 agreement” for civilian nuclear energy cooperation in the Philippines.

A senior White House administration official said at a background briefing that the Philippines “is interested in partnering with us on small modular reactors and other advanced technologies.”

“So the vice president will announce that our countries are beginning negotiations on a ‘123 Agreement,’ an agreement that will allow civil nuclear cooperation,” the official said.

“And once in place, this agreement will allow American companies to export nuclear equipment, creating important new business opportunities for our private sector. And of course, this will also help the Philippines develop its energy security and transition towards clean energy,” he said. said

During their face-to-face meeting, the President noted that with the ever-changing geopolitical landscape, especially in the Pacific, the collaboration between the Philippines and the US “is something that both countries have come to really depend on.”

“With more upheavals that we are seeing not only in the region…these partnerships also become even more important…we must evolve to respond appropriately to this situation,” Marcos said.

He reiterated that he does not see “a future for the Philippines that does not include the United States,” given the “very long relationship we’ve had with the US.”

“In the economic sense, in the political sense, defense, security, you cannot think of an area where we have not cooperated, collaborated, and we have had good results for both countries,” said Marcos.

Harris assured his government’s continued commitment to the Philippines, a “multifaceted” relationship “based on mutual commitment to the economic prosperity of the region and our respective nations.”

“We will talk more about what this means in terms of the opportunities that present themselves through our mutual concern about the climate crisis and what we could do in terms of investments in renewable energy and thinking about clean energy and the industries that will produce because of this commitment and what it will mean in terms of economic prosperity through the creation of jobs, the creation of industries and the bilateral relationship that we have to coordinate in this regard,” he pointed out.

The White House, for its part, noted that the US government has proposed measures to promote health care for veterans.

He noted that in August, U.S. President Joe Biden signed the Comprehensive Toxics Act (Compact), a landmark law that expands health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances and provide generations of veterans and their families with the care and benefits they have earned and deserve.

“The US Department of Veterans Affairs is ensuring that Filipino US military veterans and their families can benefit from the Compact Act, including the launch of a Tagalog version of the claims portal of the Compact Act,” the White House said.

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