US shutdown prompts scrapping of Obama visit

Ghio Ong, Helen Flores - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - US President Barack Obama has cancelled his trip to the Philippines next week and will send Secretary of State John Kerry instead.

The cancellation was due to the US government shutdown after Congress’ failure to reach agreement on the national budget.

“This morning, United States President Barack Obama conveyed to President Benigno S. Aquino III that he regrets that he will not be able to push through with his visit to Manila this month,” Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said in a statement. “President Obama explains that this is because of issues relating to the US government shutdown.”

At Malacañang, Ricky Carandang of the President’s communications group said they understand the reason for  Obama’s cancellation of his trip “and look forward to welcoming him to the Philippines at a more opportune time.”

In separate statements, the White House and the US embassy said Kerry would take Obama’s place in the visits to Manila and Malaysia.

Obama had also been due to travel to Bali, Indonesia for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, and to Brunei for the East Asia summit. He was to leave Saturday for the week-long trip.

“President Aquino understands the decision of President Obama. Philippines-US relations remain strong and forward-looking,” Hernandez said.

“Logistically, it was not possible to go ahead with these trips in the face of a government shutdown,” US National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said of the visits to Manila and Malaysia.

“Because they are on the back end of the President’s upcoming trip, our personnel was not yet in place and we were not able to go forward with planning,” Hayden said.

But the trips can be rescheduled, and Obama looks forward to going to both countries later in his second term, she said.

Hayden said there were no updates on Obama’s attendance of the two summits.

“We will continue to evaluate those trips based on how events develop throughout the course of the week. For the sake of our national security and economic prosperity, we urge Congress to reopen the government,” she said in a statement.

Earlier in Washington, Press Secretary Jay Carney told a press briefing the president was looking forward to his Asian trip.

But Philippine ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia had also told radio dzBB there was a possibility that Obama might put off the trip to Asia until the deadlock over a government shutdown was resolved. Obama’s Manila visit was originally set for Oct.11 to 12.

“I hope Obama’s visit to the Philippines will not be affected by the shutdown, but we can’t be sure of that. The US President may think that he should be in the US,” Cuisia said earlier. Kerry left as scheduled for Asia on Tuesday.

Kerry will visit Japan first before proceeding on Oct. 4 to Bali, Indonesia.

Meanwhile the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) expressed dismay at the US government shutdown after Congress’ failure to reach agreement on the national budget.

NaFFAA head Ed Navarra said if the shutdown continues for several weeks, many Filipino Americans who are public service workers will suffer adversely.

They are heads of households who must provide for their families, single mothers who may have to limit their doctors’ visits to emergencies, seniors and people with disabilities as well as veterans who could see their pensions and benefits delayed, and thousands of others who will be financially hard up, he said.

The shutdown suspends all but essential services.

About 800,000 government workers will not receive paychecks and the US economy is expected to lose $300 million every day the government stays closed. – With Jose Katigbak, Aurea Calica

vuukle comment











  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with