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Palace looks forward to continuing partnership with US
“We, in the Philippines, look forward to continuing our long-standing partnership with the United States in working together for a freer and more peaceful world,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said yesterday.
The STAR/Joven Cagande, file

Palace looks forward to continuing partnership with US

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - January 22, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang is confident that the Philippines and the United States’ diplomatic relations will be strengthened further during the term of President Joe Biden.

“We, in the Philippines, look forward to continuing our long-standing partnership with the United States in working together for a freer and more peaceful world,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said yesterday.

The Philippines has sent notice to the US government about the termination of the Philippines-US defense agreement, following President Duterte’s decision to implement a policy geared toward China and Russia.

Under Biden’s term, Roque remains confident of a renewal of bilateral ties between the two long-time defense allies.

“We are confident that President Biden will wear his new mantle of leadership with pride and with due regard for the hopes and aspirations of the rest of the world,” Roque said.

Although he has warm ties with former president Donald Trump, Duterte has also pushed for the suspension of the Balikatan exercises after some US lawmakers called out alleged human rights violations in Duterte’s war on drugs.

Prior to this, Roque extended Duterte’s congratulations to new US President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Presidential Communications Operations Office chief Secretary Martin Andanar also extended the administration’s greetings of congratulations and best wishes to United States’ Biden and Harris upon their assumption of official duties.

Meanwhile, the former president of the Filipino-American Press Club of New York said it would be in the best interests of the United States to keep the Philippines as a key ally despite the country’s stronger relations with China and Russia under the administration of President Duterte.

In an interview on “The Chiefs” on One News-Cignal TV on Wednesday, Ricky Rillera said the US under President Biden is not expected to abandon the Philippines even as Washington’s oldest ally in Asia pursues new relations with non-traditional allies.

“They will care because it’s the US interest really to protect the Philippines. I don’t think we’ll be abandoned,” Rillera said.

Duterte wants the Philippines to have a bigger relationship with China that has a major presence in the Indo-Pacific region and looks at economic opportunities.

The US believes the Philippines’ improving relations with China would not replace its long-standing alliance with Washington.

More in Common senior researcher Noelle Malvar-Morcos said the Biden administration is seen to restore the US as a leader of nations after its reputation was somewhat tarnished after four years of Trump presidency.

“I think the government under President Biden will be more vocal against human rights violations to the extent of pursuing economic sanctions,” she said.

Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez said the Philippines could still expect criticisms regarding the human rights situation in the country under the Biden administration.

In an interview on ANC, he said the US raised serious concern over human rights issues in other countries.

“The human rights issues have been around for a long time for many administrations in the past. And I don’t see any change in that one,” Romualdez said.

The US remains the key economic and security ally of the Philippines but there have been growing concerns in Washington about the Duterte administration’s increasingly cozy relationship with China.

“There are other countries who are also, I won’t name anymore other ASEAN friends but they also have human rights issues,” Romuadez said. “I think this is something that we would just have to face up to every time they call us out.”

Optimism

The Department of Finance (DOF) has expressed optimism over the country’s economic ties with the US following Biden’s inauguration on Thursday.

In a text message to reporters, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said Biden’s inaugural speech signals America’s returning openness to international trade and investment. This, he said, will “undoubtedly redound to our mutual benefit.”

Economists have said the new US administration will have generally positive effects on the Philippine economy particularly on trade, remittances and investments.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. chief economist Michael Ricafort said in a research note yesterday that more relaxed immigration policies will favor Filipino immigrants and help increase remittances. Greater consensus-building on free trade agreements can also help boost Philippine trade performance particularly at a time when exports are returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Addressing Biden and Harris, Liberal Party president Sen. Francis Pangilinan said “in behalf of the Liberal Party of the Philippines, we extend our heartfelt congratulations on your election as President and Vice President of the United States of America.”

“Against all odds, the American people have given you a new mandate marking the beginning of the long road back for one of the world’s greatest nations,” Pangilinan said. “The Liberal Party also lends its full trust and support to your plan to hold a democracy summit to address authoritarianism and attacks on democracy all over the world.”

Nothing new

Nothing new is expected with Biden sitting at the White House, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said in a statement issued yesterday.

Like all previous imperialist chiefs, said Marco Valbuena, information officer of the CPP, “Biden is set to promote ‘American world leadership’ – a euphemism for US global hegemonism.” He added, “(Biden) will, however, have to confront the reality of a multipolar world and the rising economic and geopolitical power and influence of China.”

This early in the presidency of Biden, the CPP said, “(Biden’s regime) is set to continue and intensify US aggressive military action in the South China Sea and East China Sea to counter China’s expanding military strength.”

The party said the “(US) will continue to strengthen its influence and power in the Middle East to control oil resources,” while believing that “the desire of the US to penetrate the European oil market will come into conflict with Russia which supplies a large part of natural oil to Germany and other countries.”

The CPP pointed out that the American working class and people suffer from widespread joblessness as almost one million people reportedly lost their jobs in the first week of the year, apart from “rising debt, homelessness and other social maladies” such as the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed more than 400,000 lives there.

Meanwhile, activist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) has urged the newly sworn-in US president to recall American troops and cut off military aid to the Duterte administration, saying it is about time that the Philippines be freed from being a “neocolony” of the US.

“President Joseph Biden is called on to terminate the MDT (Mutual Defense Treaty), VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement) and EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement) and cut off military aid for Duterte’s regime of terror. Ending our status as a US neocolony is long overdue,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes said yesterday.

Reyes said that it is high time for the new leadership in the US government to initiate genuine reforms especially when it comes to its military and foreign policies.– Pia Lee-Brago, Mary Grace Padin, Czeriza Valencia, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Artemio Dumlao, Elizabeth Marcelo

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