A New Era in the U.S.-Philippine Relationship

Posted by William J. Burns
July 21, 2010
Under Secretary Burns Meets With President Aquino

About the Author: William J. Burns serves as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

A jam-packed two-day visit to the Philippines capped my four-country tour of Southeast Asia. As Secretary Clinton said during her visit eight months ago, the United States and the Philippines have a long friendship and strong partnership based on shared histories and mutual interests. The United States is ready to partner with the Philippines to "meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the 21st century."

The Philippines is a country poised on the cusp of great change and reform. The potential for real progress and expanded U.S.-Philippines cooperation is clear following the recent election of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino. I met with the new President on Tuesday to convey the United States' strong support for his new administration. I was impressed by his commitment to confronting poverty and corruption, and to protecting human rights. He has built a strong cabinet team to advance his many important goals. We discussed the ongoing, wide-ranging cooperation between our two countries and explored future opportunities for strengthening our relationship. These were consistent themes in all my meetings with government officials, including the Secretaries of Finance and of National Defense.

One of the most poignant moments for me was my visit to the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. The cemetery contains the largest number of graves of our World War II service members worldwide, a total of 17,202, and is the resting place of service members from the Philippines and other Allied nations. In front of the chapel are two large hallways where 36,285 names are inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing. Though these numbers are staggering, the Memorial imparts a feeling of peace, and is a reminder of our countries deeply shared history. After laying a wreath in front of the chapel, I viewed the mosaic maps which recall the achievements of the American and Allied armed forces in the Pacific, China, India, and Burma.

Civil society plays a critical role in addressing issues of governance, peace, and development in the Philippines. A roundtable discussion with an impressive group of community leaders provided the opportunity for me to hear about their work with regard to election monitoring and reform, good governance and transparency, extrajudicial killing and enforced disappearances, trafficking in persons, and human rights in general. I particularly enjoyed getting their perspective on the new Aquino Administration and the positive steps the government is taking to confront these issues, and on ways the United States can support their work.

During my second day in the Philippines, I traveled to the southern island of Mindanao, where I met with civil society leaders, regional government officials, and military representatives. I applaud civil society's dedication to promoting peace and protecting the human rights of Filipinos in Mindanao, especially given recent tragedies in the region. Aggressive pursuit of those responsible for extrajudicial killings and human trafficking is the right thing to do, and U.S. technical assistance is helping the Philippine justice sector become more effective in these areas. The United States has a strong interest in supporting the efforts of both government and civil society to bring peace and security to this region and will continue to support these efforts. The highpoint of my day was joining students to launch a new English language partnership program, sponsored by USAID, at one of Mindanao's schools -- not only was I impressed by their eagerness to learn English, but I also got to enjoy a wonderful performance of traditional dance. Programs like this are a key way that we partner with the Philippines to promote economic prosperity and sustainable development in Mindanao.

The United States shares an important past and a close, cooperative relationship with this key ally, but the Filipino people convinced me that an even brighter future is yet to come. Mabuhay!

Comments

Comments

Anne
|
China
July 21, 2010

Anne in China writes:

congratulations!!

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 21, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Dear Under Secretary Burns,

I'm sure there's many New Mexicans besides myself from a number of "nations" who would like to thank your hosts for remembering the part my fellow citizens from this neck of the woods played in defending their freedom as well as our own.

I met a survivor of the death march once and he made much of the courage of folks there as, "brothers in arms".

As it happens, the kid next door left a home made "monument" to the Navajo code talkers he penned with a sharpie on a piece of flagstone out to "weather" on the concrete driveway the other day. (class project?? Family related?? I really don't know)

So for all the vets that were present, I think they can rest assured representitives of the next generation have taken note of their efforts.

My best to one and all,

EJ

OysterCracker
|
United States
July 22, 2010

O.C. in USA writes:

My grandfather spent 3 years wallowing near death in a Japanese prison camp in the Phillipines to protect American interests. I hope Americans appreciate his great sacrifice.

ningrowley
|
Virginia, USA
July 22, 2010

Ning R. in Virginia writes:

Daghan ka ayong Salamat (thank you very much) I thank God everyday for USA supporting Philippines in the past, present, and future. I belonged to both Countries. I would be more than willing to volunteer me, myself, and I, for the betterment of both countries no matter how little I can do. Thank you and good luck to all may god bless you, and keep you and all safe and sound.

shierly
|
Philippines
July 23, 2010

Shierly in the Philippines writes:

Thanks for your insights on the future of our country. Though the road to progress is so rough and it seems as if so far, I cant help but feel grateful that we can receive help from Countries Like yours. With the recent election, our countryman's only hope is a new beginning where we can hope for more opportunities to help us grow in stature

Eric
|
Philippines
July 24, 2010

Eric in the Philippines writes:

Very well expressed sir.

Thanks for your visit and commitment.

best wishes,
Eric

palgye
|
South Korea
July 25, 2010

Palgye in South Korea writes:

To or not To be

But everything is possible within the opposition are projected, to find a way I think. The odds of one in a million chance of work exists, give and take, I think.

from

That their faith alone is likely to distort the truth like the feeling of fear in the mind, always carry a heavy rock-dwelling people of the Atlas

palgye
|
South Korea
July 27, 2010

Palgye in South Korea writes:

just like a indonesia? and Congress

i think so.
Since the purpose of establishment that you think sex is the limit. And a lot of work to do still think we would not abandon the logic of formation is. A strong commitment, but a social, rather than enjoying the discussion in a public place to think.

Brazem L.
|
Philippines
August 17, 2010

Brazem B.L. writes:

I am a Tausug citizen of my country Sultanate of Sulu. I could say that because I have acquired Tausug birth certificate from the United Tausug Citizens (UTC) Civil Registry. The fact is, the UTC have engaged in several parades and rallies for indepdendence but the Republic of the Philippines wishes not to recognized the statehood or existense of the Sultanate of Sulu. Infact the Republic of the Philippines (RP) provoked two of our rallies and several confiscation of the Sultanate of Sulu raised flags in down town Jolo. My questions are: Does the UN agencies do not understand what do you mean by"Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources"? This is one of their charter, How could they dön't know about this very well? and my point of view on this charter is nothing less than that, he who owns the sovereignty on natural resources owns the territory. Why the Republic of the Philippines keep on doing their unlawful exercises to the Tausug citizens of the Sultanate of Sulu? Is this maybe the UN doesnt know what is going on in Sulu? If that is the case, please help us emphasized this problem to the UN. I am addressing this to the U.S. Government Department of State in the name of her exellency madam Hillary Clinton. I am sorry for the informality of my approach, I just want to show what is going on in Sulu.

.

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