Go optimistic of better US-Philippines relations after Austin visit

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Bong Go has expressed optimism on the outcome of the meeting between President Duterte and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III, saying the President was able to openly express his sentiments during the event.

Austin paid the President a courtesy call in Malacañang Thursday night, his last stop in a series of visits to the member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

After the meeting, Duterte recalled his order to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US.

“I’m sure we will have better and stronger relations with the US,” Go said, noting the importance of upholding the core strategic interests of the Philippines and its independent foreign policy of being “a friend to all and enemy to none,” especially in this time of global crisis.

He added that the clarifications Austin made on the equal sovereign partnership between the Philippines and US as well as the latter’s commitment to the Mutual Defense Treaty were able to address key concerns of President Duterte.

Go emphasized further that as a treaty ally, the US has a special role to play. According to him, it was made clear by Secretary Austin how the US values the Philippines and intends to follow through with its commitment to make the alliance stronger.

“The fight against the pandemic was among the areas of commitment discussed. We are doing everything we can to secure enough vaccines and protect the lives and interest of every Filipino all over the world,” the senator said.

Go said the President values all countries that have assisted the Philippines during the pandemic and has thanked the US for its support for the Philippines’ COVID-19 response, especially the donation of 3.2 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines through the COVAX Facility.

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