The Philippines and the United States have long-standing relations which encompass a broad range of areas of cooperation. Recent developments include:
· On 28-29 April 2014, President Barack Obama visited the Philippines to underscore the US policy of rebalance to Asia, to reaffirm the enduring treaty alliance between our two countries, enhance economic ties and deepen people to people exchanges.
· Since 2011, the Philippines and the United States have developed mechanisms for regular policy consultations and conducted a series of high-level exchanges.
· Over the past years, four (4) Bilateral Strategic Dialogues were held to consult and exchange views on a wide range of bilateral, regional, and global issues. The fourth PH-US Bilateral Strategic Dialogue was held in Washington DC on 6-7 March 2014 as a follow through to the three (3) Dialogues held in Manila on 27-28 January 2011, in Washington DC on 26-27 January 2012, and in Manila on 11-12 December 2012.
· Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin met with their American counterparts, Secretary Hillary Clinton and Secretary Leon Panetta in Washington, DC for the PH-US Two Plus Two Meeting on 30 April 2012. This meeting brought together for the first time PH’s and US’ Foreign Affairs and Defense Secretaries to discuss issues of mutual concern for both countries.
· Top US officials visited the Philippines in 2013 including US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and US Secretary of State John Kerry. US legislators also visited the country this year, e.g. US Senator Marco Rubio, member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a Congressional Delegation led by US Representative Ed Royce, Chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee.
STRATEGIC SECURITY ENGAGEMENT
· The United States and the Philippines are treaty allies under the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951. The Philippines is the oldest security ally of the US in Southeast Asia and one of the five treaty allies of the US in the Pacific region.
· In order to make their alliance responsive to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, the Philippines and the United States signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). The agreement supports the AFP’s modernization efforts and promotes inter-operability between Philippine and US and forces. It will also help maintain and develop PH maritime security, maritime domain awareness and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities.
· The US transferred two ships to the Philippine Navy: (1) Weather High Endurance Cutter (WHEC) – BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (formerly USCGC Hamilton) and (2) Weather High Endurance Cutter (WHEC) – BRP Ramon Alcaraz (formerly USCGC Dallas). These vessels have been utilized to patrol Philippine waters, conduct search and rescue operations as well as deliver relief supplies to typhoon victims.
· The Philippines is set to receive US$ 40 million under the United States’ Global Security Contingency Fund. The grant will provide the Philippine Government technical expertise, training, and equipment to support capability building of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the areas of maritime security, counter-terrorism, and other law enforcement training.
· The Philippines and the United States adhere to a rules-based approach to the settlement of maritime disputes in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea, in accordance with international law and UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. With the submission of the Philippine Memorial on 30 March 2014, the Philippines has presented its case on the jurisdiction of the Arbitral tribunal and the merits of its claims. The Philippines is seeking not just any kind of resolution but a just and durable solution, grounded on international law.
· The United States deployed more than 50 US ships and aircraft and around 1,040 US soldiers for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda. Drawing from the lessons learned in working together during Typhoon Yolanda, the Philippines and the United States resolved to strengthen their joint cooperation and training in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, including exploring ways to streamline processes further in the event of natural disasters.
· The Memorandum of Cooperation on Maritime Counter-Piracy Training and Education helps develop the two countries’ counter-piracy capabilities of maritime personnel. This initiative has been expanded to the ASEAN region. The 1st Expanded ASEAN Seafarers Training – Counter Piracy (EAST-CP) Workshop was held in Manila on 23- 25 September 2013.
DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE AND ECONOMIC COOPERATION
· The Philippines looks forward to the expansion of trade and investment cooperation with the United States. In 2013, the United States accounts for 12.53% of the total trade of the country, ranking as the second largest trading partner of the Philippines.
· The United States, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is a long-standing development partner of the Philippines. USAID’s various programs and projects in the Philippines seek to accelerate broad-based inclusive economic growth and give emphasis to the following: education, family healthcare, democracy and governance, sustainable environmental management, and peace and stability in Mindanao.
· The United States Government provides development assistance to the Philippines through the Partnership for Growth (PFG) and the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Compact, which support Philippine programs on good governance and inclusive growth.
o The PFG, with total committed funding of US$145 million for 11 Core Programs under USAID, addresses key priorities including development in Mindanao and promotion of environmental resilience and mitigation of the negative impact of natural disasters.
o The US$ 434 million MCA Compact aims to reduce poverty and promote sustainable economic growth by investing in the modernization efforts of PH Bureau of Internal Revenue to improve revenue administration; by supporting a community-driven development model that provides basic infrastructure and social services in poor communities; and by rehabilitating a 220-kilometer road in one of the poorest and most isolated regions of the Philippines.
· The recent reinstatement of the Philippines to Category 1 status by the US Federal Aviation Authority on 10 April 2014 means that the Philippines has undertaken measures to comply with international aviation safety and standards. Philippine air carriers can now expand routes to the United States, opening up more opportunities for business and tourism travels for the Filipino and American people.
· The PH-US Science and Technology Agreement signed in June 2012 reinforces our commitment to collaborate in a range of disciplines including agriculture, climate change, scientist exchanges and marine research.
· Towards the goal of assuring a sustainable energy future, the PH Department of Energy and US Export-Import Bank signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 19 March 2014 for $1-billion worth of financing guarantees to further facilitate renewable energy (RE) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) industries in the Philippines.
· The Philippines views with interest the Trans Pacific Partnership which is a high standard trade arrangement that will shape the global and regional economic architecture in the 21st century.
· The Philippines welcomes the resolution of the following economic issues:
o Removal of the Philippines from the Special 301 Watch List, acknowledging that the PH Intellectual Property Rights Regime is in parity with international standards;
o Termination of the Generalized System of References (GSP) Country Review on Labor Rights; and
o US support for the Philippines’ request for extension of a WTO waiver on rice until 2017; both governments intend to finalize a letter exchange memorializing this undertaking by 1 June 2014.
· An estimated 3.4 million Filipinos live in the US, making the Filipinos as the second largest Asian group in the country. A number of Americans of Filipino descent also hold public office in the US.
· Exchange of experts, academicians and researchers is expected to increase under the PH-US Science and Technology Agreement signifying the importance being accorded to education and progress through science.
· Recognizing their shared commitment to honor and respect the Filipino and American veterans who bravely fought in World War II, the United States and the Philippines signed the Memorandum of Understanding regarding cooperation in the restoration, operation and maintenance of Clark Veterans Cemetery. Under the MOU, the United States government will provide a U$ 5 million fund for the rehabilitation of the Clark Veterans Cemetery, a seven-hectare cemetery established in 1947 at the old Clark Air Force Base as a final resting place for Filipino scouts and American veterans.
· The United States gives due recognition and fair compensation to Filipino veterans of World War II. The passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 includes the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation (FVEC), which provides lump sum benefits to Filipino Veterans in the amount of $15,000 for US citizens and $9,000 for non-citizens.