Harris’ PH visit to bolster security, economic ties with US

By Filane Mikee Cervantes and Wilnard Bacelonia

November 21, 2022, 6:33 pm

<p><strong>VP HARRIS VISIT</strong>. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. shakes hand with US Vice President Kamala Harris during a courtesy call at Malacañan Palace on Monday (Nov. 21, 2022). Harris, who is on a three-day working visit to the Philippines, will also fly to Palawan on Tuesday. <em>(PNA photo by Rey S. Baniquet)</em></p>

VP HARRIS VISIT. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. shakes hand with US Vice President Kamala Harris during a courtesy call at Malacañan Palace on Monday (Nov. 21, 2022). Harris, who is on a three-day working visit to the Philippines, will also fly to Palawan on Tuesday. (PNA photo by Rey S. Baniquet)

MANILA – Speaker Martin Romualdez on Monday said the visit of United States Vice President Kamala Harris to the Philippines would bolster the long-standing security alliance and economic relations between the two countries.

“The visit of US Vice President Kamala Harris is a welcome development as it would serve to reinforce the enduring alliance, partnership, and friendship between the Philippines and the United States,” Romualdez said in a statement.

Romualdez said the meeting between Harris and President Marcos could enhance the PH-US bilateral alliance.

On Sunday, the White House issued a statement, reiterating that “the US commitment to the defense of the Philippines is ironclad.”

“I am confident that President Marcos will assess any possible new security arrangements with Washington with our national interest as the paramount consideration and consistent with his foreign policy of being ‘friend to all and enemy to none,” Romualdez said.

He said the discussions between the two leaders could also help advance the Philippines' continuing efforts to modernize the armed forces.

Aside from defense and security cooperation, Romualdez said the visit of the senior US administration official bodes well for the economic and trade partnership between the two countries.

In the same statement from the White House, the US said it is committed to strengthening its economic and investment relationship with the Philippines.

According to the statement, Harris will launch initiatives in various areas, including climate action and energy security, food security and digitalization, among others.

Romualdez noted that these initiatives touch on the same critical issues of global concern that President Marcos raised during his participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Bangkok, Thailand.

“The APEC leaders and President Marcos share the common view that they must put top priority in addressing these global problems. I believe it would not be difficult for the President and Vice President Harris to agree on areas of cooperation on these matters,” Romualdez said.

He said the House of Representatives would support the implementation of these mutually-beneficial initiatives with the passage of appropriate legislations.

Marcos said Harris' visit to the Philippines is a "very strong symbol" of the enduring ties between the Philippines and the United States.

“Your visit is a very strong symbol that these relationships remain strong and that these relationships remain important as indeed they do. I have said many times, I do not see a future for the Philippines that does not include the United States,” he said.

“I cannot think of an area where we have not cooperated, collaborated and have had good results for both our countries,” Marcos added.

Harris arrived in the Philippines on Sunday, the first visit in five years by a high-ranking US official since former President Donald Trump visited the country in 2017.

She was accompanied by her husband, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff.

Senator Ronald Dela Rosa said said he hopes to see all-out support from the US.

"Dapat (It is better if) we can get their assurance na talagang (that they are really) all out sila sa atin (for us). Pagdating ng kagipitan, dapat ‘di tayo iiwan (When there are crises, they should not leave us)," Dela Rosa said in an interview.

"I just hope they're true to their hearts. Kung ano 'yung nakalagay sa ating mutual agreement ay paninidigan nila ‘yun at talagang totohanan ang kanilang suporta kung kinakailangan natin (Whatever will be written in the mutual defense agreement, they should honor it and commit their real support if we need it)," he added.

Senator Christopher Lawrence Go said he welcomes whatever is beneficial for Filipinos that will result from Harris’ visit.

Kung makakatulong naman po para sa ating bayan lalong lalo na po sa modernization ng Armed Forces [of the Philippines], kagamitan, makakatulong naman po sila sa atin, welcome naman sila (If they can help the country especially in the modernization of the Armed Forces, facilities, if they can help us, they are welcome)," Go said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan De Oro said Harris’ visit is a clear signal to China that the US is supporting the Philippines in its territorial dispute with Beijing.

“We welcome Vice President Kamala Harris. We thank the United States for supporting our sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in accordance with the International Arbitral Award in July 2016,” he said.

Rodriguez emphasized the need to have a code of conduct to peacefully and amicably resolve the territorial disputes among countries in the region.

US State Secretary Anthony Blinken also visited the Philippines in August.

He said his visit showed the Biden administration’s “commitment to stand with our Philippine ally in upholding the rules-based international maritime order in the SCS, supporting maritime livelihoods and countering illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.” (with reports from Zaldy De Layola/PNA)