MANILA, Philippines – Below is United States’ President Barack Obama’s statement delivered during a press conference event in Malacanang Palace in Manila with President Benigno Aquino III on Monday, April 28th.
Barack Obama, who is on a two-day state visit in the country, discussed about the USA move to renew its leadership and partnership amongst the Asia Pacific region. Amid Filipino activists’ claim of United States “expansionism,” Obama also stressed that the U.S. had no intention to either reclaim old bases in the Philppines or build new ones.
Furthermore, Obama said the American government was reaffirming “the importance of resolving territorial disputes in the region peacefully without intimidation or coercions.”
READ U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA’S FULL STATEMENT.
Thank you President Aquino for your warm welcome and your very kind words. With the President’s indulgence, I want to begin by saying a few words about some terrible storms and tornadoes back home in the United States.
Over the weekend, a series of storms claimed at least a dozen of lives and damaged or destroyed homes and businesses and communities across multiple states with the worst toll in areas in Arkansas. So I want to offer my deepest condolences to all those who lost loved ones. I commend the heroic efforts of first responders and neighbors who rushed to help.
I want everyone affected by this tragedy know that FEMA and the Federal government is on the ground and will help our fellow Americans in need, working with state and local officials, and I want everybody to know that your country will be there to help you recover and rebuild as long as it takes.
Now, this is my first visit to the Philippines as President, and I am proud to be here as we mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Leyte Gulf when Americans and Filipinos fought together to liberate this nation during World War II. Now, all these years later, we continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder to uphold peace and security in this region and around the world.
Mr. Benigno, I want to thank you and the Filipino people, not only for your generous hospitality today but for a friendship that has spanned generations. I’d like to add our friendship is deeper and the United States is stronger because of the contributions and patriotism of millions of proud Filipino-Americans.
As I made clear throughout this trip, the United States is renewing our leadership in the Asia Pacific and our engagement is rooted in our alliances, and that includes the Philippines, which is the oldest security treaty alliance that we have in Asia.
As a vibrant democracy, the Philippines reflects the desire of citizens in this region to live in freedom and to have their universal rights upheld. As one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, the Philippines represents new opportunities for the trade and investment that creates jobs in both countries.
And given its strategic location, the Philippines is a better partner on issues such as maritime security and freedom of navigation. Let me add that recent agreement to end the insurgency in the South gives the Philippines a historic opportunity to forge a lasting peace here at home with greater security and prosperity for the people of that region.
I was proud to welcome President Aquino to the White House two years ago, and since then we’ve worked to deepen our cooperation and to modernize our alliances. Our partnership reflects an important Filipino concept: ‘bayanihan’—the idea that we have to work together to accomplish things that we couldn’t achieve on our own.
That’s what we saw last year when Typhoon Yolanda devastated so many communities. Our Armed Forces and civilians from both our countries worked as one to rescue victims and to deliver life-saving aid—that’s what friends do for each other. And Mr. President, I want to say to you and the people of the Philippines, the United States will continue to stand with you as you recover and rebuild. Our commitment to the Philippines will not waver.
Today, I’m pleased that we’re beginning an important new chapter in the relationship between our countries, and it starts with our security with the new defense cooperation agreement that was signed today. I want to be very clear: the United States is not trying to reclaim old bases or build new bases.
At the invitation of the Philippines, American service members will rotate through Filipino facilities. We’ll train and exercise more together so that we’re prepared for a range of challenges, including humanitarian crises and natural disasters like ‘Yolanda’.
We’ll work together to build the Philippines’ defense capabilities, and work with other nations to promote regional stability, such as in the South China Sea. And I’m looking forward to my visit with forces from both our nations tomorrow to honor their service and to look ahead to the future we can shape together.
As we strengthen our bilateral security cooperation, we’re also working together with regional institutions like ASEAN and the East Asia Summit. When we met in the Oval Office two years ago, Benigno and I agreed to promote a common set of rules founded in respect for international law that will help the Asia Pacific remain open and inclusive as the region grows and develops.
Today, we reaffirm the importance of resolving territorial disputes in the region peacefully without intimidation or coercions. And in that spirit, I told him that the United States supports his decision to pursue international arbitration concerning territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
Finally, we agreed to keep deepening our economic cooperation. I congratulated President Aquino on the reforms that he’s pursued to make the Philippines more competitive through our partnership for growth and our Millennium Challenge Cooperation compact. We are going to keep working together to support these efforts so that more Filipinos can share in this nation’s economic progress because growth has to be broad-based and it has to be inclusive.
We discussed the steps that the Philippines could take to position itself for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and I encouraged the President to seize the opportunity he’s created by opening the next phase of economic reform and growth.
Today, I’m announcing that my Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker will lead the delegation of American business leaders to the Philippines this June to explore new opportunities. And I add that we’ve also committed to work together to address the devastating effects of climate change and to make Philippine communities less vulnerable to extreme storms like ‘Yolanda’.
So Mr. President, let me once again thank you for everything you’ve done to strengthen our alliance and our friendship. I’m looking forward to paying tribute to the bonds between our people at the dinner tonight and on working with you as we write the next chapter in the relationship between our two countries.