Posts Tagged ‘Philippines’

Last night, at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel,  International Medical Corps President and CEO, Nancy Aossey, presented Hillary with the organization’s Global Champion Award.   Dedicated to providing first response in humanitarian crises the world over, teams stood at the ready to assist  following yesterday’s battering of the Philippines by Super Typhoon Haiyan.

Former President Clinton,  obviously proud, accompanied her to the gala where we see her with Aossey, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, co-chairman of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Rob Friedman, Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone,   Lenny Kravitz, and Martha Plimpton among others.

11-08-13-Z-01 11-08-13-Z-02 11-08-13-Z-03 11-08-13-Z-04 11-08-13-Z-05 11-08-13-Z-06 11-08-13-Z-07 11-08-13-Z-08 11-08-13-Z-09 11-08-13-Z-10 11-08-13-Z-11 11-08-13-Z-12 11-08-13-Z-13 11-08-13-Z-14 11-08-13-Z-15 11-08-13-Z-16 11-08-13-Z-17 11-08-13-Z-18 11-08-13-Z-19 11-08-13-Z-20 11-08-13-Z-21 11-08-13-Z-22 11-08-13-Z-23 11-08-13-Z-24 11-08-13-Z-25 11-08-13-Z-26 11-08-13-Z-27 11-08-13-Z-28 11-08-13-Z-29 11-08-13-Z-30 11-08-13-Z-32 11-08-13-Z-33 11-08-13-Z-34 11-08-13-Z-35 11-08-13-Z-36 11-08-13-Z-37

Read Full Post »

Finalization of the Philippines – Moro Islamic Liberation Front Framework Agreement


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
October 7, 2012

The United States welcomes the announcement of the framework agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. This agreement is a testament to the commitment of all sides for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the southern Philippines. The next steps will be to ensure that the framework agreement is fully implemented. We encourage all parties to work together to build peace, prosperity and greater opportunities for all the people of the Philippines.

Read Full Post »

Vodpod videos no longer available.

2+2 Meeting between the U.S. and the Philippines, posted with vodpod

Remarks With Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Philippines Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, and Philippines Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin After Their Meeting


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
April 30, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON:Good afternoon. It is such a pleasure for me to welcome our colleagues from the Philippines, Secretary del Rosario and Secretary Gazmin. And I am always happy to welcome my longtime friend and colleague, Secretary Panetta.Today we held the first ever 2+2 meeting between the United States and the Philippines, a testament to our shared commitment to write a new chapter in the partnership between our two countries. With the growing security and economic importance of the Asia Pacific, the United States is actively working to strengthen our alliances, build new partnerships, and engage more systematically in the region’s multilateral institutions.

At the heart of this strategy is our effort to deepen and broaden our alliance with our friend and treaty ally, the Philippines. This alliance is rooted not just in a deep history of shared democratic values but in a wide range of mutual concerns. And today we had a chance to cover a number of them.

First we discussed our bilateral military cooperation. Our alliance has helped keep both of our countries secure for more than 60 years, and it has been a bulwark of peace and stability in Asia. Today the United States reaffirms our commitment and obligations under the mutual defense treaty.

We also discussed steps we are taking to ensure that our countries are fully capable of addressing both the challenges and the opportunities posed in the region in the 21st century. We need to continue working together to counter violent extremism, to work on addressing natural disasters, maritime security, and transnational crime.

We also discussed the evolving regional security situation. We both share deep concerns about the developments on the Korean Peninsula and events in the South China Sea, including recent tensions surrounding the Scarborough Shoal. In this context, the United States has been clear and consistent. While we do not take sides on the competing sovereignty claims to land features in the South China Sea, as a Pacific power we have a national interest in freedom of navigation, the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, and the unimpeded, lawful commerce across our sea lanes. The United States supports a collaborative diplomatic process by all those involved for resolving the various disputes that they encounter. We oppose the threat or use of force by any party to advance its claims. And we will remain in close contact with our ally, the Philippines. I look forward to continuing to work closely with the foreign secretary as we approach the ASEAN Regional Forum in July.

Finally, we discussed the maturing economic relationship between our countries as well as our shared commitment to enhanced development, trade, and investment. We would like to see the Philippines join the Trans Pacific Partnership trade community. The foreign secretary raised the Philippines’ interest in seeking passage of the Save our Industries Act, and we have conveyed that message to the United States Congress. And of course, I complimented the Philippines and the Aquino government on the progress with our Partnership for Growth and the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact.

So once again, colleagues and friends, we appreciate your participating in this first ever 2+2, and we look forward to our future cooperation.

Secretary del Rosario.

SECRETARY DEL ROSARIO: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary. I am honored to be here. Today marks a milestone in the alliance and strategic partnership of the Philippines and the United States. For the first time, we held our 2+2 consultations at the ministerial level. Our consultations were timely. Discussions on key issues of common interest to us were conducted within the context of our respective domestic concerns as well as the challenges and opportunities which coexist in the Asia Pacific region. The 2+2 consultations paved the way for us to revisit the bilateral engagement between the Philippines and the United States. It opened an avenue for us to consider ways of fine-tuning our relations as we adapt to changing circumstances both in our region and the world at large. Thus, the focal points of our consultations were how best to keep our alliance relevant and responsive to each other’s needs.

We reaffirmed our shared obligations under our mutual defense treaty and underscored the necessity of ensuring that our alliance remains robust, agile, and responsive. We committed to jointly explore modalities by which the President could build a minimum credible defense posture and agreed to prioritize high-value and high-impact joint military exercises and training to meet our common objectives, including maritime security.

Moreover, we reaffirmed our common interest in maintaining freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful commerce and transit of peoples, as well as a rules-based multilateral, peaceful approach in resolving competing claims in maritime areas within the framework of international law, including UNCLOS.

In the field of economic and development cooperation, we agreed to accelerate the implementation of the Partnership for Growth, which aims to establish an inclusive growth path for the Philippines as well as the Millennium Challenge Compact to reduce poverty in our country.

The Philippines and the United States shall endeavor to increase bilateral trade and investment as well as tourism exchanges. We agreed to continue discussions on Philippine interest to eventually join the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. In the area of good governance, we shall promote the establishment of a national justice information system for the Philippines. We will also work to sustain our partnership in combating human trafficking.

In the multilateral arena, we both expressed support for efforts to increase cooperation in the ASEAN, in APEC, and in the East Asia Summit. Beyond doubt, the combined action of the Philippines and the U.S. in promoting converting interests and shared objectives would propel our alliance and strategic partnership towards a higher trajectory at a faster velocity.

Our just-concluded 2+2 consultations is the latest impetus in sustaining this positive momentum. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Secretary Panetta.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Good afternoon. I’d like to join Secretary Clinton in saying what a great pleasure it was to host Secretary del Rosario and Secretary Gazmin for one of the first 2 by 2 meetings here in Washington with the Philippines. I look forward to hosting Secretary Gazmin for dinner at the Pentagon this evening.

We had a very successful meeting today with our Filipino counterparts, and we discussed a number of ways our governments can work more closely together to strengthen the importance alliance that we have to deepen our engagements and to find shared solutions to the joint security goals that we share.
Our two nations have forged deep and abiding ties through shared sacrifice and common purpose. Seventy years ago this month, American and Filipino soldiers fought and bled together shoulder to shoulder during the opening battles of World War II at Corregidor and Bataan. Through dark days, and many of those dark days fought together, our forces joined again in 1944 to begin the hard-fought battle to liberate the Philippines. We honor that legacy with our renewed commitment to this U.S.-Philippine alliance.

Ours is an alliance and a friendship built on historic ties, common democratic values, and a shared desire to provide our two peoples a prosperous and more secure future. I want to emphasize how deeply the U.S. values this great partnership and the importance of the Mutual Defense Treaty that remains the cornerstone of our security relationship. Working together, our forces successfully are countering terrorist groups in the southern Philippines. We are improving the Philippines maritime presence and capabilities with the transfer of a second high-endurance cutter this year. We are working to expand and improve joint ISR programs and our ability to counter cyber attacks. And I’m pleased to see the close cooperation being built between our forces through training and exercises such as the recently completed exercise Balikatan in 2012.

The new U.S. defense strategy that we rolled out earlier this year recognized that one of the important regions of the world that we must focus on and that America’s future security depends on is the Asia Pacific region. As a resident Pacific power, the United States is committed to a rule-based regional order that promotes viable and vibrant trade and the freedom of navigation. We are enhancing our defense cooperation and expanding security partnerships throughout the region in order to sustain peace and stability, and we are committed to continuing our robust, stabilizing presence in that region.

I look forward to sitting down later today with Secretary Gazmin to discuss, among other things, how we can deepen our engagement in ways that enhance this very important alliance and that promote our common vision of regional security in a very important Asia Pacific region. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Secretary Gazmin.

SECRETARY GAZMIN: Good afternoon. Today’s meeting was a manifestation of the mutual desire of the Philippines and the U.S. to further deepen our strategic partnership. After watching our alliance endure through the years, we deem it crucial to prepare for the security challenges of today and tomorrow.
This is why we decided to hold the first 2+2 meeting, to be able to exchange views on how to formulate adoptive and responsive strategic policies. We have reached a critical juncture in our alliance, where our concerns in both traditional and nontraditional aspects of our security have become much more intertwined. While we are sustaining the gains for successful efforts in various areas of cooperation, we need to intensify our mutual trust to uphold maritime security and the freedom of navigation and thereby contribute to the peace and stability of the region.
Meanwhile, the effects of natural disasters have become too disastrous and thus necessitate greater cooperation for expedient and effective response. We look forward to working together and consult one another on how to improve the capability to uphold maritime security and institutionalize efficient humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

Keeping these two objectives in mind, we look forward in working as reliable allies that contribute to the peace and stability in the region. We are also mindful that our efforts to further our alliance need to be in full consideration of our respective national laws and political context.

Thank you and good afternoon.


MS. NULAND: We’ll take two from each side today. We’ll start with NBC, Andrea Mitchell.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Madam Secretary, thank you. I know you can’t get into the specifics of the Chen Guangcheng case, but the whole world is watching. And already Mitt Romney has said that any serious U.S. policy towards China has to confront the facts of the lack of political freedoms and other human rights abuses. So can we be sure that your interests, America’s interests in these talks in strategic issues such as Iran and Syria and North Korea and trade will not take precedence over human rights? And what are your concerns about all the activists who have now gone missing and the fate of Mr. Chen’s family?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Andrea, I look forward to traveling to China this evening. We will be going to Beijing for the Strategic and Economic Dialogue. We have a full range of issues that covers all of the political and economic matters that are of concern to our nations and our people. I’m not going to address the specific case at this time, but I just want to put it in a broader context.

The U.S.-China relationship is important. It’s important not only to President Obama and me, but it’s important to the people of the United States and the world, and we’ve worked hard to build an effective, constructive, comprehensive relationship that allows us to find ways to work together. Now a constructive relationship includes talking very frankly about those areas where we do not agree, including human rights. That is the spirit that is guiding me as I take off for Beijing tonight, and I can certainly guarantee that we will be discussing every matter, including human rights, that is pending between us.

QUESTION: And those people who have gone missing?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I have nothing to add to what I’ve said at this time. I have a full agenda of many issues of great concern to us, including human rights and the freedom and free movement of people inside China who have a right to exercise those freedoms under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

MS. NULAND: Next question, Jose (inaudible).

QUESTION: Mr. del Rosario, the standoff at the Scarborough Shoal is into its fourth week now. Did you get an unequivocal assurance from the U.S. it will come to the aid of the Philippines if shots are fired? And what was the type or form?

Also, short of shots being fired, how do you see the endgame of Scarborough being played out if China cannot be persuaded diplomatically to withdraw its vessels from the area?

SECRETARY DEL ROSARIO: Those are several questions rolled into one, my friend, but let me begin from your last question. We do have a three-track approach to endeavoring to solve the problem that we currently have with China in the Scarborough Shoal. It encompasses three tracks.

The first track is the political track. We are pursuing the ASEAN as a framework for a solution to this problem through a code of conduct that we are trying to put together and ultimately approve. Hopefully that will quiet the situation.

Secondly, we are pursuing a legal track, and the legal track involves our pursuing a dispute settlement mechanism under UNCLOS. There are five of them. We think that we can avail of one or two of those mechanisms, even without the presence of China.

Thirdly, we are pursuing a diplomatic approach, such as the one that we are undertaking, which is to have consultations with China in an attempt to defuse the situation.

In terms of U.S. commitment, I think the U.S. has been very clear that they do not get involved in territorial disputes, but that they are firm in terms of taking a position for a – towards a peaceful settlement of the disputes in the South China Sea towards a multilateral approach and towards the use of a rules-based regime in accordance with international law, specifically UNCLOS. They have expressed that they will honor their obligations under the Mutual Defense Treaty.

MS. NULAND: Next, Cami McCormick from CBS News.

QUESTION: Secretary Panetta, this is for you. White House Counterterrorism official John Brennan today spoke openly for the first time about drones. He said the – President Obama wanted more transparency on this issue and more openness. As former CIA director and now Defense Secretary, I’m wondering, is there some national security benefit to talking about this now? Why was the decision made? And what are your thoughts on it?

SECRETARY PANETTA: I’m going to let the speech speak for itself. All I’ll say is that this country has engaged in a number of operations, both covert and overt, to go after al-Qaida and our terrorist allies – or their terrorist allies. And we have been very successful at weakening al-Qaida as a result of that. This is a group that attacked this country on 9/11, and we have made clear that we are going to do everything we can to defend this country, using every means possible. And the means we use are those that we feel are most effective to go after al-Qaida.

MS. NULAND: The last question today, (inaudible) Times.

QUESTION: My question is for Secretary Gazmin. Secretary, in light of the current Chinese-Philippines standoff in Scarborough Shoal, what kind of assistance have you asked to bolster Manila’s ability to patrol its waters and to deter what you call intrusions?

SECRETARY GAZMIN: Thank you for the question. The assistance we have sought is to help us bring the case to international legal bodies, so that the approach is the legal rules-based approach in resolving the issue in the South China Sea or the West Philippine Sea.

MS. NULAND: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read Full Post »

I am concerned about our friends Normita and Maria, both of whom are in the Philippines at the moment as far as I know.

Flooding in the Philippines

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
December 17, 2011

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I want to send my deepest condolences for the devastation and loss of life caused by flooding from Tropical Storm Washi in southern Philippines. The U.S. government stands ready to assist Philippine authorities as they respond to this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected.

Read Full Post »

Seriously,  we need to start a Museum/Library for her in Seneca Falls.  She needs a place to park all of these awards where we can visit, and it has to be in Seneca Falls!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Presentation of the Order of Lakandula, Signing of the Partnership for Growth and Joint Press Availability with Philippines Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Manila, Philippines
November 16, 2011

MODERATOR: Please be seated. We will now proceed to the conferment of the award. Be it known to all men by these (inaudible) that I, Benigno S. Aquino III, president of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by law, have caused to be inscribed in the roster of the Order of Lakandula the name of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, United States of America, with the rank of Bayani, done in the City of Manila the 16thday of November in the year of our Lord 2011.(The award was conferred.)


MODERATOR: We will now proceed to the signing of the Joint Statement of Intent on the Partnership for Growth between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the United States of America.

The Partnership for Growth aligns both governments’ strategic efforts towards inclusive Philippine economic growth. This partnership will enhance the Philippine Government’s capability to: first, foster a more competitive business environment; second, strengthen the rule of law and increase efficiency in courts; and lastly, support fiscal stability. This five-year program is a signature initiative of President Obama’s Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development. Fifteen U.S. agencies are actively engaged with the Philippine Government in this new joint effort. The Partnership for Growth anticipates producing a transformative impact on the Philippines and unleashing the country’s potential for broad-based and sustained economic growth. (Applause.)

(The joint statement was signed.)


MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes the signing ceremony. We will now proceed to the press opportunity. Secretary Clinton will now deliver her statement.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you very much, and let me begin by expressing what a personal pleasure it is for me to be back here in Manila. I want to thank President Aquino and Foreign Secretary Del Rosario for extending such a warm welcome and also extend my appreciation to all of the officials of the Government of the Philippines. And I am grateful to all of you and to the people of the Philippines for the Order of Lakandula. This is an honor that I will always treasure.

And on behalf of the American people and President Obama, I bring greetings and well wishes. For 60 years now, the alliance between the Philippines and the United States has helped keep our nations secure. And thanks to that security, both nations have made progress on many fronts. We have strengthened our democracies, developed our economies, and certainly built strong ties among our peoples. We have also helped provide stability and security throughout the Asia Pacific.

And so we do have a lot to be grateful for and proud of during this anniversary year. But it’s not about looking toward the past. This is about how we face the future together. And we know that we can count on the alliance to continue to keep us safe and growing stronger.

During the past year, our nations have embarked on a campaign of increasingly active diplomacy. In January, we inaugurated the first U.S.-Philippines Bilateral Strategic Dialogue here in Manila. In June, I had the pleasure of welcoming the foreign secretary to Washington. And Secretary Panetta and I are looking forward to welcoming Secretary Del Rosario and Defense Secretary Gazmin to Washington early next year for a joint meeting in the 2+2 format, making it the first time all four secretaries will sit down together to take a comprehensive look at our partnership. Our meeting in Washington in January will be quite a bit cooler weather-wise, but I hope just as warm personally as the one here in Manila.

My visit today is part of this reinvigorated diplomacy. Earlier on the deck of the USS Fitzgerald in Manila Bay, the foreign secretary and I signed the Manila Declaration. And just now, he and I officially launched the U.S.-Philippines Partnership for Growth, a rigorous, results-oriented collaboration to help the Philippines break into the ranks of the world’s high-performing emerging economies and achieve sustainable, broad-based growth that will benefit all of the people of this country. Leaders here have worked hard to lay the groundwork for this kind of economic leap by making reforms to improve transparency and tax collection and to create more inclusive prosperity.

The United States wants to support these pro-growth reforms and help unlock the Philippines vast economic potential to improve the lives of your own people, to drive regional prosperity, and to create more high-paying jobs so fewer Filipino citizens have to travel to distant countries to support their families.

Through the Partnership for Growth, a team from across the United States Government will work closely with partners in the Filipino Government to create a more transparent and predictable business environment, lower barriers to trade and strengthen the rule of law, as well as fighting corruption. Together we hope to deliver an array of benefits to the people, including more foreign investment to create new jobs, a more streamlined court system that can deliver justice and protect local businesses, better services, and more resources to fight poverty. Over time, these steps will better position the Philippines to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which we hope will dramatically increase trade and investment among the peoples of the Pacific.

In addition to our bilateral partnership, we are working in several regional forums. A few days ago we met in Hawaii for the APEC Leaders Meeting, and in a few days we will meet again in Bali for the East Asia Summit and the U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Meeting. Our goal is to show demonstrably what we mean by a pivot to Asia, to strengthen the architecture of cooperation among the nations of the Pacific to address regional challenges, advance broad-based security, prosperity, democratic progress, and peace.

The United States looks to the Philippines and sees a trusted ally, a nation that shares our democratic values, and ancestral home for millions of Filipino Americans, an important trade and development partner, and may I add, a country with one of the highest Facebook penetration rates in the world. The Filipino people, like the American people, are eager to connect, to seize new opportunities, to have a voice in their own country and in global debates. And so let us work together to shape that shared future.

And I’ll end today with just a personal comment, some praise for a native son of the Philippines who is making headlines across the world. We know that the Pacman had another great victory. As I said in the last time I was in Manila, I am a major Pacman fan, and in the spirit of his sport and his success, let me say the United States will always be in the corner of the Philippines. We will always stand and fight with you to achieve the future we seek. (Applause.) Thank you all.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Secretary Clinton. Secretary Del Rosario will now deliver his statement.

FOREIGN SECRETARY DEL ROSARIO: Ladies and gentlemen, the year 2011 is a banner year for Philippines-U.S. relations. This year we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Philippines-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty as well as the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps and USAID in the Philippines. The event is marked no less than by the visit of Secretary Clinton, to be followed by the meeting between President Aquino and President Obama in Indonesia on the 18th of November.

These milestones and high-level meetings have tested the multifaceted engagement between the Philippines and the United States, making it one of the most durable and dynamic strategic partnerships in the whole world.

Secretary Clinton and I had very fruitful discussions on a broad range of bilateral, regional, and global issues this morning. We exchanged views on how to employ the interlocking tools of development, diplomacy, and defense to weld a formidable, more focused, and efficient alliance that is results-oriented and forward-looking.

This morning we signed the Manila Declaration. It affirms the vigor of our alliance, especially at a time when the Philippines is facing challenges to its territorial integrity in the West Philippine Sea. As I mentioned earlier in the signing, a stronger, reliable Philippine defense in the West Philippine Sea upholds our common and shared interests to freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce, and respect for international law.

The president also met with Secretary Clinton today and discussed areas where their priorities converge and how the Philippines and the U.S. can work in these areas together. We are charting the course of our relations by seizing vast opportunities to grow our economies, open by the fastest-growing region in the world, the Asia Pacific.

The Philippines and the U.S. blazed a trail in development-oriented collaboration in Asia. We jointly embark on a mission to win a sustainable and broad-based economic growth in our country through the Partnership for Growth. A stronger economy for the Philippines is a stronger ally for the United States and the region. We are committing ourselves in implementing policies that will catalyze a kind of economic growth that would have a perceptible impact on the lives of average Filipinos across the nation. By unlocking the Philippines’ potential for economic growth, the Partner for Growth will boost the Aquino administration’s drive to unleash our country’s capacity to create equal opportunities for everyone.

There is much reservoir of goodwill across both sides of the Pacific. I am confident that our partnership will gather more steam as our engagement intensifies in every front. I thank you. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Thank you, Secretary Del Rosario. Secretary Clinton and Secretary Del Rosario will now take two questions from members of the press. The first will be from Mr. Paul Eckert of Reuters.

QUESTION: Thank you. Good afternoon. Paul Eckert of Reuters News Agency. For both officials, the development yesterday down in Bali where the ASEAN nations were unable to agree on a united stand on the South China Sea, for Secretary Clinton, how does that complicate your work going forward on this issue going into Bali and beyond? And more broadly, all countries sort of wrestle with the economic appeal of China and how to tap that, along with coping with some of the policies that may be less palatable or even threatening, depending on where you sit. So I’d welcome a broader philosophical comment from either official on the second part of that question. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Paul, let me start. First of all, we believe that the United States participation for the first time in the East Asia Summit as well as our third U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Meeting sends a very strong message of what our level of commitment is to this region and to the many issues that we confront. And we will certainly expect and participate in a very open, frank discussion of maritime security challenges in the region and how to address them cooperatively. President Obama will reaffirm our national interest in the maintenance of peace and security in the region and internationally, and that includes freedom of navigation, overflight, respect for international law, the rule of law, unimpeded lawful commerce across the region’s maritime domain. And we further seek to see the Law of the Sea used as the overriding framework for handling territorial disputes.

So we expect that there will be such a frank discussion. We have been heartened by the strong response by a number of the countries that are part of ASEAN and part of the broader East Asia Summit. And we think this probably will require leader-level discussions, and we look forward to those occurring in Bali.

FOREIGN SECRETARY DEL ROSARIO: On the discussions of – about the South China Sea, as far as we know it in the Philippines the West Philippine Sea, we obviously have three concerns regarding that issue. The first concern is we are – like many other nations, we share the importance of freedom of navigation and unimpeded commerce. That’s one. Secondly, we are in a territorial dispute issue. That’s the second. And third is we have a particular interest in the West Philippine Sea and the commerce there because of the number of seafarers that we have in the Philippines. As you know, 25 percent of the seafarers of the entire universe are Filipinos.

We do have – if you – we do have a territorial dispute and we are – like other nations who are of interest in the issue, we do have an interest in providing a solution in accordance with the rule of law. Essentially, we’re talking about – or specifically UNCLOS. We are looking for a peaceful resolution to the issue. We are looking for a multilateral approach considering that there are many claimants involved. And we also are looking for an observance of the Declaration of Conduct that’s in place.

We are – that’s – we’re commonly embracing those facets of interest and behavior, but we think that we – the Philippines has contributed significantly to the issue by its introduction of an actionable framework. It’s known as ZoPFFC. It stands for Zone of Peace, Freedom, and Cooperation. It is a actionable framework that we have contrived that will address the segregation of disputed versus the undisputed areas so that the disputed areas can be used for joint development purposes.

As you may know, we had pushed this and we were actually requested by ASEAN to get together and to assemble a maritime legal forum (inaudible) the Philippines. And unfortunately, from the very beginning, we did not have a consensus because only eight of the ten countries came to the table to assist us in vetting this initiative.

But nevertheless, we completed the results of that forum, of that vetting. And as you probably have heard, we were successful in terms of being able to establish a consistency between the actionable framework that we were introducing to that of the DOC and we also have established a relevance of the framework as well to UNCLOS. This, of course, was brought up to the foreign ministers meeting in Bali that’s being held at this time. And I understand that it was referred for further study. We are – we considered that we have not been defeated, that we did do our part in terms of being proactive, in terms of introducing what we felt would be a way to be able to conclude an application of the rule of law to the issue.

But the Philippines itself is – if I may go further with your permission, Madam Secretary, we’re interested in being able to validate our claim. And by this, we hope to be able to go to a dispute settlement forum which is provided by UNCLOS. And there we have five choices. One is ITLOS. The other is ICJ. And then there’s a third and a fourth, which are forms of arbitration. And there’s a fifth, which is a compulsory conciliation. The first and the second require that we approach the forum with the other party, which in this case would be China, but I think China hesitates to do this with us. So we will, in all likelihood, proceed to the fifth mechanism and be able to secure a validation of our claim from that particular mechanism.

MODERATOR: And the last question for today will come from Mr. Willard Cheng of ABS-CBN.

QUESTION: Good afternoon. Pardon my very long question, Madam Secretary. The United States is known for its strong advocacy for human rights, transparency, and accountability. I wonder what are your thoughts about the refusal of the Aquino administration to allow former President Arroyo to seek medical treatment abroad. And having personally known her, are you concerned about the state of health of the former president?

And secondly, Madam Secretary, the United States in recent days has made known its plans to expand and diversify its maritime presence in Asia and the Pacific. What will be the role of the Philippines in these plans? And to what extent will the United States be involved in the disputed Spratlys? And can you elaborate more in your statement that the United States will remain in the corner of the Philippines, and will you support the quest of the Philippines to validate its territorial claims in international arbitration bodies? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as to the first question, this is obviously a matter for the authorities of the Philippine Government and all of its branches, and it would not be appropriate for me as a Secretary of State to comment any further.

We are strongly of the opinion that the disputes that the foreign secretary referred to that exist primarily in the West Philippine Sea between the Philippines and China should be resolved peacefully. The United States does not take a position on any territorial claim, because any nation with a claim has a right to assert it, but they do not have a right to pursue it through intimidation or coercion. They should be following international law, the rule of law, the UN Convention on Law of the Seas, UNCLOS that the foreign secretary has referred to. There are mechanisms within it, as he has just enumerated, for the resolution of disputes. And we stand for the rule of law and we stand for international norms and standards, which is why we support the peaceful resolution.

At the same time, we recognize that our long mutual defense treaty and alliance relationship with the Philippines has to be updated and brought into the 21st century, and that will require working with the Philippines to provide greater support for external defense, particularly maritime domain awareness, defense of one’s maritime boundaries. And we’ve begun some intensive consultations between our two governments to determine exactly what the specifics of such an approach would be, which is why we will be continuing those consultations.

Then in January, the defense secretaries and foreign secretaries will meet in the first-ever 2+2 context. We do this with Japan; we do it with Korea; we do it with Australia. We’re doing it now with the Philippines in Washington. We also are looking forward to President Obama welcoming President Aquino to the White House, to the Oval Office, sometime early in the next year, because we have a lot of work to do. And we want to be very sensitive to the requests and needs of the Government of the Philippines, and we want to make it clear that our military relationship, like every other aspect of our relationship, is one based on mutual respect and mutual interest. And we think that the time has come for us to look at how we can update our military relationship moving into the future, knowing that there are new challenges and new opportunities for us to be working together.

QUESTION: Thank you.


MODERATOR: Thank you, Secretary Clinton. Thank you, Secretary Del Rosario. That concludes our press opportunity for today. (Applause.)

Read Full Post »

Remarks At A Luncheon Hosted by President Benigno Aquino


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Presidential Palace
Manila, Philippines
November 16, 2011

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Today we confer upon the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Order of Lakandula, one of the highest honors that can be (inaudible). For deepening and broadening the engagement between United States and the Philippines (inaudible). One of cornerstones our engagement is the Mutual Defense Treaty between our two countries. Today we celebrate the 60th anniversary (inaudible).

Let me also take this occasion to launch our new Partnership for Growth (inaudible). The Partnership for Growth is a new framework for strengthening our economic engagement to promote and support broad base economic growth. These are (inaudible) the relationships between our two countries. Your visit shows us that alliance between the United States and Philippines (inaudible) that this bond (inaudible). Our countries enjoy a friendship forged by shared history, goodwill and (inaudible). The Pacific may separate our countries, but the words and deeds of the past provide us with a bridge that is able to reach across the vast ocean.

With this, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to propose a toast to Secretary Hillary Clinton may (inaudible) stronger relationship (inaudible) United States (inaudible) cooperation (inaudible) mutual benefit and the sincere desire to work for our people (inaudible) American (inaudible) between our two countries as we work to institute lasting and inclusive progress in our two nations (inaudible) as we say in the Philippines (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Mr. President, for that warm welcome. We are so honored to be here for many reasons. Yes, it is the 60th anniversary of the Mutual Defense Treaty that has demonstrated for all to see the strong bonds of solidarity and partnership between our two nations. Yes, it is the 50th anniversary of USAID and the Peace Corps. Both organizations have been partners with Filipino people for those decades. Yes, we did have the opportunity today to renew our bonds in a very tangible manner, first on the deck of the USS Fitzgerald with the signing of the Manila Declaration, and just now with the signing of the Partnership for Growth. Because this relationship is about the future. It certainly honors the past and all that we have done together, but it looks forward and it is about the strong ties between our peoples, because we know that governments and public officials, political leaders exist to support the better lives and futures of the people they serve. And you, Mr. President, and your family have exemplified that principle.

So it is for all of the reasons of the ties, of partnerships, solidarity, cooperation, familial affection between us, that I propose a toast: To the president and to all who serve with him, on behalf of a better future for the children and the next generation, to the bonds between our two countries, and particularly the strong personal relationships that go beyond governments, go beyond treaties and declarations, between the people of the United States and the people of the Philippines, may God bless our common endeavors.

Read Full Post »

Vodpod videos no longer available.

US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty

Remarks Aboard USS Fitzgerald Commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Manila, Philippines
November 16, 2011

Thank you very much, and it is indeed an honor for me to be in Manila to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty and it is wonderful to be onboard the USS Fitzgerald, a fine ship with a dedicated crew under the leadership of Commander Mutty. If only we were underway. And I thank you greatly for hosting us today.I want to acknowledge Secretary Del Rosario, with whom I am working very closely, Secretary Gazmin as well, and all those who are representing the Government of the Philippines. But we also acknowledge General Oban, Vice Admiral Pama, Admiral (inaudible), and Brigadier Bautista, Lieutenant General Rabena, and Mayor Lim, the mayor of Manila.

On the United States side, we have a very distinguished delegation. I think it’s fair to say that this combination of representatives from the State Department and the Defense Department symbolizes the strength not only of the past but even more importantly our future together.

It is a special honor also for me to meet anywhere with U.S. servicemen and women, and I say thank you on behalf of all Americans. You protect us faithfully and courageously, often from faraway cities or remote corners of the ocean. And it’s been a great honor of my life to be able to work with you to ensure that you’re given the support and treatment you deserve from a grateful nation.

As each of us can attest, our mutual defense treaty has provided for our common defense and helped to create cooperation between our countries, not only military cooperation but also political and economic, and not only between governments but most importantly between our people.

That summer day in 1951 when this treaty was signed, our nations faced a very different world. Then we were united against the spread of communism. Filipino and American soldiers had fought side by side in World War II not long before, and this treaty was a testament that we stood united against the challenges of a dangerous world. Our hope was that we could pursue the peace together. And that common devotion to peace has sustained our alliance through the years.

Well, today we meet in a new era where we face new challenges but also where we confront new opportunities. So we must ensure that this alliance remains strong, capable of delivering results for the people of the Philippines, the United States, and our neighbors throughout the Asia Pacific. We are now updating our alliance and all of our alliances in the region with three guidelines in mind. First, we are working to ensure that the core objectives of our alliances have the political support of our people. Second, we want our alliances to be nimble, adaptive, flexible so they can continue to deliver results in this new world. And third, we are making sure that our collective defense capabilities and communications infrastructure are operationally and materially capable of deterring provocation from the full spectrum of state and non-state actors.

To that end, the United States is working with our Filipino allies to ensure that we can meet threats like proliferation and terrorism, and to support the Philippines particularly in the maritime domain as you move to improve your territorial defense and interdiction capabilities. In August, we transferred a Coast Guard cutter here, thanks to the escort that you provided, and we are together considering transferring a second one as well.

We are seeking to broaden and strengthen our partnership beyond defense. The Manila Declaration that we have just signed sets forth a shared vision for strategic, political, economic, and people-to-people cooperation. And later today, Secretary Del Rosario and I will sign a Statement of Principles for our Partnership for Growth to help the Philippines break into the ranks of the world’s high-performing economies. We are working together to increase trade and investment and to strengthen regional institutions like ASEAN, APEC, and the East Asia Summit. The United States-Philippines alliance has been a force for regional security for decades, and through our direct cooperation we are bringing that same spirit to regional forums as well.

As always, the foundation of what we do is really based on the ties connecting our peoples. The United States is home to more than four million Filipinos and Americans of Filipino descent, including several members of the crew of this ship. All told, Filipinos represent the second largest Asian American community in the United States, and we are proud and grateful for the invaluable contributions they make to our democracy, our economy, and our culture.

Looking back, there is much to celebrate, I agree, and we wish to make sure that both of our people understand the benefits that this relationship has brought, is bringing, and will provide for the future.

Now, consider this ship. The USS Fitzgerald has patrolled the entire Western Pacific region this year. It traveled to Australia, Russia, Guam, Saipan, the Marshall Islands, before docking here in Manila Bay. As part of Operation Tomodachi, the search, rescue, and recovery mission following the earthquake, the tsunami, and the nuclear reactor meltdown in Japan, the Fitzgerald operated closest to shore. And this summer, it transited the Gregorio del Pilar the flagship of the Filipino Navy on its maiden voyage across the Pacific. The ships cross-decked and held training sessions for 16 days on emergency response and onboard medical procedures. By the end of the exercise, the officers and crews onboard both vessels achieved new levels of proficiency and partnership.

That is just one example of the work we do every day together not only between our militaries and our governments, our diplomatic corps, but between our businesses, our universities, and our citizens. The vital ties between the Philippines and the United States are strong and growing stronger, and we must continue to invest in them to serve the interests and answer the concerns of the Filipino and American people, to maintain security and the conditions for progress, and to keep following the fruitful pursuits of peace. The United States remains committed to this goal, just as we are committed to our alliance. We are grateful for 60 years of partnership and the progress we have made together, and we look forward to many more years of working closely together on behalf of our two nations, our people, and the world. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

Adding in this slideshow because … wait, wait, wait … she is not the Commander-in-Chief? Wow! Could have fooled me!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read Full Post »

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton applauds beside Philippines' Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario after being serenaded by Filipino musicians upon her arrival at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila November 16, 2011. Clinton is in the Philippines for a two-day visit. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo (PHILIPPINES - Tags: POLITICS)

Signing of the Manila Declaration On Board the USS Fitzgerald in Manila Bay, Manila, Philippines

Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 16, 2011


Today on board the USS Fitzgerald in Manila Bay, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Philippine Secretary for Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario signed the Manila Declaration. The text of the Manila Declaration follows:

The Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America today commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Philippines-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty. On this historic occasion, we reflect on the rich history of our alliance and the continuing relevance of the treaty for peace, security, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. We also reaffirm the treaty as the foundation of our relationship for the next 60 years and beyond.

The United States and the Philippines are bound by a deep and abiding friendship forged by a history of shared sacrifice and common purpose. The many Filipinos who bravely served side-by-side with American servicemen and women during World War II and the veterans of our two nations buried at the Manila American Cemetery in Fort Bonifacio bear testament to our profound and enduring bonds. These bonds are enriched by the presence in the US of over four million Filipinos and Filipino Americans, and in the Philippines by over 150,000 Americans, who help shape the political and economic future of both countries.

The Republic of the Philippines and the United States today reaffirm our shared obligations under the Mutual Defense Treaty. We expect to maintain a robust, balanced, and responsive security partnership including cooperating to enhance the defense, interdiction, and apprehension capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

We are determined to continue our bilateral cooperation in addressing broader regional and global challenges, including maritime security and threats to security such as climate change, nuclear proliferation, terrorism, and transnational crime. We are committed to continuing our close and effective cooperation to counter al-Qaida-linked terrorist groups in the southern Philippines.

We share a common interest in maintaining freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful commerce, and transit of people across the seas and subscribe to a rules-based approach in resolving competing claims in maritime areas through peaceful, collaborative, multilateral, and diplomatic processes within the framework of international law.

We are committed to advancing our nations’ mutual security interests through continuing a high-level strategic dialogue. We also support increasing regional cooperation in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM+), the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the East Asia Summit (EAS).

The Republic of the Philippines and the United States are long-standing economic partners that share a commitment to free trade, economic opportunity, and poverty reduction. We recognize the urgent need as expressed in the Partnership for Growth Statement of Principles to reduce poverty by creating inclusive, sustainable economic growth in the Philippines. We jointly endeavor to contribute to our peoples’ mutual prosperity and benefit by continuing our engagement in the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement and promoting bilateral initiatives that will support job creation efforts in both countries.

As leading members of the Open Government Partnership, our nations support a set of common principles guiding the relationship between governments and their citizenry. We reaffirm the principles of the Open Government Declaration and intend to continue the promotion of greater government transparency and the rule of law. We are continuing to cooperate in countering the scourge of human trafficking. We reaffirm our commitment to the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention against Corruption, and other applicable international instruments related to human rights and good governance.

Sixty years on, the Philippines-United States alliance has never been stronger and will continue to expand in the 21st century as our two countries chart a new direction for our critical partnership, in the defense realm and beyond. Our common values, commitment to democracy and the rule of law, robust economic relationship, and strong people-to-people ties will continue to ensure that our partnership remains strong and vibrant well into the future. With an enduring history of shared sacrifice and common purpose, the people and governments of our two countries will act together to build a better and more prosperous world for future generations.

Read Full Post »

She is always very pretty in the rain.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read Full Post »

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Remarks With Philippines Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario After Their Meeting


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
June 23, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, everyone. It is a pleasure to welcome back to Washington the foreign secretary. This may be his first visit as foreign secretary, but he is no stranger either to Washington or to the United States Government, having served with distinction as ambassador. But this gives us the opportunity to reaffirm the deep bonds between our two nations and our peoples.

The Philippines and the United States are longstanding allies, and we are committed to honoring our mutual obligations. This year, we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty, which continues to serve as a pillar of our relationship and a source of stability in the region. Whether we are working together to combat extremism, help victims of natural disaster, or stand up for human rights, the people of our countries share a vision of a better world and a mutual desire to take action.

So as we reflect on the 60th anniversary of this defense relationship, we are also looking forward as to how we will chart a new vision for this critical alliance.

We discussed a number of bilateral issues in our Bilateral Strategic Dialogue, which brings together representatives of our defense and diplomatic communities to work towards solving common problems that affect us both.

The United States and the Philippines consult on a broad range of security issues, including counterterrorism and maritime security. For example, the United States recently transferred a U.S. Coast Guard cutter to the Philippine navy and helped the Philippines establish a coastal radar system so it can monitor its own waters more closely.

We also discussed the Philippines outstanding efforts to reduce poverty and fight corruption under President Aquino. Through our $434 million Millennium Challenge Compact, which I had the opportunity to announce alongside President Aquino in New York last year, we are working to reduce poverty and spark economic growth.

And the Philippines is only one of four countries in the entire world invited to participate in the Partnership for Growth, which will bring together experts to identify the biggest barriers to economic growth and find ways to overcome them.

The Philippines is also playing a high-profile role in the Open Government Partnership, which is a priority of President Obama’s to improve governance and transparency.

We discussed a wide range of regional and global issues, including the Philippines leadership in the Asia Pacific region. The Obama Administration is committed to enhancing our engagement in this region, and I thank the foreign secretary for the Philippines staunch support for our efforts to elevate our engagement with ASEAN and join the East Asia Summit.

The Philippines is an important regional partner on issues such as human rights, political and economic reform, and we closely consult on the issue in Burma.

We also discussed recent events in the South China Sea. We are concerned that recent incidents in the South China Sea could undermine peace and stability in the region. We urge all sides to exercise self-restraint, and we will continue to consult closely with all countries involved, including our treaty ally, the Philippines.

As I have said many times before, the United States has a national interest in freedom of navigation, respect for international law, and unimpeded, lawful commerce in the South China Sea. We share these interests not only with ASEAN members but with other maritime nations in the broader international community. The United States does not take sides on territorial disputes over land features in the South China Sea, but we oppose the use of force or the threat of force to advance the claims of any party.

We support resolving disputes through a collaborative diplomatic presence and process without coercion. We believe governments should pursue their territorial claims and the accompanying rights to maritime space in accordance with customary international law, as reflected also in the Law of the Sea Convention. The United States supports the 2002 ASEAN China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and we encourage the parties to reach agreement on a full code of conduct. We look forward to having discussions on these issues at the upcoming ASEAN Regional Forum in July.

So again, Secretary, thank you for a very productive conversation. I look forward to seeing you next month at the ASEAN Regional Forum.

FOREIGN SECRETARY DEL ROSARIO: Thank you, Madam Secretary. It is a privilege for me to return to Washington, D.C. once again in the service of my country and our people. The United States remains the Philippines’s most important strategic partner, and I welcome the opportunity to discuss with Secretary Clinton new ways to strengthen our longstanding alliance.

We discussed our partnership in initiatives that promote economic growth and the establishment of strong democratic institutions such as the Millennium Challenge Account, the Partnership for Growth, and the Open Government Initiative. We also discussed ways to strengthen the level of trade and investment between the U.S. and the Philippines. We discussed the Save Our Industries Act, which has been reintroduced in the Senate by Senator Inouye. We also spoke of our common efforts to combat terrorism and other forms of transnational issues such as trafficking in persons.

Secretary Clinton welcomed the Philippine Government’s progress in anti-trafficking and assured that we will be taken into account in the next review. We agreed that a strong alliance between the Philippines and the U.S., anchored firmly on shared democratic ideals and vision, contributes significantly to the maintenance of the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. I conveyed to Secretary Clinton the firm intent of the Philippine Government, under the leadership of President Aquino, to play a very active part in maintaining the security of the region.

As I have mentioned in my various meetings around Washington, D.C. and again to Secretary Clinton this afternoon, that while we are a small country, we are prepared to do what is necessary to stand up to any aggressive action in our backyard. The Philippines has made clear its position on the issue: to maintain peace while allowing for the economic development of the area. There is need to segregate the non-disputed areas from the disputed areas. What is ours is ours, and what is disputed can be shared.

I have discussed with Secretary Clinton our proposal for a rules-based regime in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. We adhere to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and are working towards the eventual adoption of a code of conduct. This begins with using all diplomatic channels available to manage the tensions in the area. We have used the existing diplomatic channels to register our concern over China’s aggressive action. We have also put on the table a framework for transforming the area and establishing a zone of peace, friendship, and cooperation.

At the same time, we have committed our own resources towards the development of the necessary capabilities to protect our national borders and ensure freedom of navigation and the unimpeded flow of commerce. We thus welcome the assurance from Secretary Clinton of the U.S. commitment to honor their treaty obligations as well their continuing interest in ensuring freedom of navigation, open access to Asia’s maritime sea lanes, and respect for international law in the South China Sea. I look forward to continuing discussions on concrete programs that we can undertake in pursuit of the shared objectives.

The partnership between the Philippines and the United States is also manifest in our multilateral engagements. We welcome President Obama’s participation at the East Asia Summit in Bali later this year. I would like to thank Secretary Clinton for welcoming me back to Washington and for her steadfast assurance that the partnership between the Philippines and the U.S. remains important to the United States and to the overall U.S. engagement in the Asia Pacific region.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much.

MS. NULAND: We have two questions from the American side and two questions from the Philippine side. The first question is (inaudible).

QUESTION: Thank you. Secretary Clinton, on the South China Sea, how concerned are you about China’s recent aggressive actions against Vietnamese and Philippine vessels off their coasts? And do you regard this as a serious threat to regional stability? And also, what is your response to comments from a senior Chinese official earlier this week, saying that the U.S. really had no role to play in helping resolve these disputes?

And also, Secretary del Rosario, if you could address your concerns about China’s recent actions.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Our position on the South China Sea has been consistent and clear. We support a collaborative diplomatic process by all claimants to resolve their disputes without the use or threat of force. We’re troubled by the recent incidents in the South China Sea that have increased tensions and raised concerns about the peace and security of the region.

These reported incidents clearly present significant maritime security issues, including the freedom of navigation, respect for international law, and the lawful, unimpeded economic development and commerce that all nations are entitled to pursue. We support the ASEAN China declaration on the conduct of parties in the South China Sea. And as the secretary said, we encourage the parties to reach a full code of conduct.

And as I’ve said, we don’t, as the United States, take a position on competing sovereignty claims over land features. And as the secretary said, there is customary international law; there is the law of the seas. What is theirs is theirs and then what is disputed should be resolved peacefully. However, if there are claimants to land or sea features, then they should respect the international law and do everything we can to try to resolve these disputes because, ultimately, territorial disputes have to be resolved by the claimants. But the United States is prepared to support the initiatives led by ASEAN and work with the South China Sea’s claimants to meet their concerns.

And I would just conclude by saying that we are aware of the comments that were recently made by a high-level Chinese official. Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell will be leading the American side in the first Asia Pacific consultation at a high level between the United States and China in Hawaii over the weekend, and this will be certainly one of the most important issues on the agenda.

FOREIGN SECRETARY DEL ROSARIO: On the West Philippine Sea, otherwise known as the South China Sea, we, of course, are concerned about the aggressive intrusions being made by Chinese vessels. And in the last couple of months, since February 25th, we actually have noted as many as nine intrusions of different varieties, but clearly becoming more aggressive and more frequent. We have, of course, responded to these intrusions in terms of filing diplomatic protests. And we have gotten a response which is, in our view, not acceptable. These are responses that – where the – where China is claiming that the South China Sea is totally within their sovereignty under the 9-line concept that they are submitting to the international community.

We, of course, are very concerned about where the direction of these events may be headed. And we have – the Philippine Government has come out with a position that we would like to call attention to everyone that the South China Sea, there should be a rules-based regime that should be put in force there so that international law will have to prevail. And in particular, when you – we say international law, we’re referring to the UNCLOS, or the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. We are asking China to please abide by this and we, of course, are hoping that the issue can be resolved diplomatically and in accordance with international law.

MS. NULAND: Next question, Rodney Jaleco, ABS-CBN.

QUESTION: Good afternoon, Madam Secretary, Secretary del Rosario. From ABS-CBN. The Spratly issue is what preoccupies many Filipinos right now as far as foreign affairs is concerned. And one question that keeps cropping up is: What will America do if China attacks Filipino forces in the Spratly Islands? And in this light, the armed forces of the Philippines is shifting. There’s an apparent shift from international security to external defense. And do – this is a question for Madam Secretary. If you think the Visiting Forces Agreement between the U.S. and the Philippines should be reviewed to reflect the current realities in the region. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as to your first question, the United States honors our Mutual Defense Treaty and our strategic alliance with the Philippines. I’m not going to discuss hypothetical events, but I want to underscore our commitment to the defense of the Philippines. And with respect to our military cooperation, I think you have to view it on several levels at once.

We are in discussions with the Government of the Philippines about what their needs are because it is up to them to decide how to deploy forces and what their highest priorities are, and I will let the secretary respond to that. But we certainly wish to do what we can to support the Philippines in their desires for external support for maritime defense and the other issues that we have discussed and that the secretary is discussing in other meetings as well. There will be an upcoming U.S.-Philippines joint naval exercise starting on June 28th. It is one of the routine cooperative training exercises that we conduct with the Philippine navy, and it is one more example of our close relationship.

With respect to the VFA, we don’t, at this time, see any need for renegotiating, but we want to evaluate, we want to be sure that we are responsive to the needs that the Philippines have, and we have agreed to do that with the secretary.

MS. NULAND: Okay. Kirit Radia with ABC.

QUESTION: Hi, Madam Secretary and Mr. Secretary. If I could take you to a different region, if you don’t mind. There are reports that Syria is sending tanks to its border with Turkey to prevent refugees from being able to cross the border. Your Ambassador was recently in that region. What can you tell us about anything he may have seen while he was there? What is your message to the Syrian Government? And if I could ask you what your advice would be to the Turkish Government as they prepare to respond to this.

And also, Madam Secretary, there’s reports that another flotilla may be headed to Gaza within the next couple days. What is your message to the organizers and participants in that? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are very concerned by the reports that the Syrian military has surrounded and targeted the village of Khirbet al-Jouz, which is located roughly 500 meters from the Turkish border. If true, that aggressive action will only exacerbate the already unstable refugee situation in Syria. And we’ve seen increased refugee flows across the border into Turkey. Recent reports are that there are more than 10,500 Syrians already sheltered by the Turkish Red Crescent in camps on the border.

I have discussed this at length with the foreign minister of Turkey. President Obama has discussed it with the prime minister. We are closely monitoring the situation in Syria and in neighboring countries, and it is further example of the lengths to which President Assad’s regime will go to repress the people of Syria rather than actually working in a collaborative way to try to resolve the legitimate concerns of the Syrian people. And it just is very clear to us that unless the Syrian forces immediately end their attacks and their provocations that are not only now affecting their own citizens but endangering the potential border clashes, then we’re going to see an escalation of conflict in the area. And the United States is already providing humanitarian assistance. We are closely consulting with Turkey. But this is a very worrisome development by the Syrians. They have to know what they’re doing and they have to, I assume, know their own history, because this is not the first time that they have had a provocation that led the Turks to take action to protect their own interests.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) flotilla (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we do not believe that the flotilla is a necessary or useful effort to try to assist the people of Gaza. Just this week, the Israeli Government approved a significant commitment to housing in Gaza. There will be construction materials entering Gaza and we think that it’s not helpful for there to be flotillas that try to provoke actions by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves.

MS. NULAND: The last question will be to (inaudible).

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, good afternoon. The armed forces of the Philippines needs, for once, or six, modern but affordable – and the operative word here is affordable – military hardware from the U.S. so you can have a credible response against external threats at home and the South China Sea. Do you support this, Madam, and can you give us your thoughts on the matter? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, we do support that and we are starting a process with the foreign secretary and the Government of the Philippines to review the existing programs and to determine what are the additional assets that the Philippines needs and how we can best provide those. There are a number of different approaches. I know that the Secretary will be meeting later with Secretary Gates and Defense Department officials. So we will closely coordinate inside the United States Government with the Government of the Philippines. We are determined and committed to supporting the defense of the Philippines, and that means trying to find ways of providing affordable material and equipment that will assist the Philippine military to take the steps necessary to defend itself.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: