CHICAGO (jGLi) — The Philippines and United States deepened their partnership when they made a “number of significant advances across a wide range of issues” at the second United States-Philippines Bilateral Strategic Dialogue that took place in Washington, D. C. on Jan. 26 and 27.
According to a press statement from the White House Communications Office, the dialogue was attended by senior officials from both governments, who reviewed a number of shared accomplishments achieved over the past year.
In a joint statement, the two countries said the dialogue was held in the spirit of the November 2011 Manila Declaration, which “provided an opportunity to consult and exchange views on a broad range of bilateral, regional, and global issues, reflecting our common values and interests.”
The dialogue was co-chaired by Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Lavoy for the United States and Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Erlinda Basilio and Undersecretary of National Defense Pio Lorenzo Batino for the Republic of the Philippines. Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan chaired the working group on Rule of Law and Law Enforcement.
A continuing high-level consultation of a joint ministerial meeting between Secretary of State Rodham Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario, and Secretary of National Defense Voltaire Gazmin are scheduled this March.
During the dialogue, the United States and the Philippines reaffirmed their commitment to fulfill the vision of the Manila Declaration through an invigorated and expanded alliance capable of addressing 21st century challenges.
“We reinforced the significance of our Mutual Defense Treaty as the basis for the alliance and the treaty’s continued relevance to the peace, security, and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific. We are committed to further enhance cooperation, including in security, defense, commerce, law enforcement, human rights, and disaster relief. We agreed to deepen and broaden our maritime security cooperation.
PARTNERSHIP FOR GROWTH AND MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE
“We emphasized the importance of deepening bilateral trade and investment ties to increase prosperity for the people in both countries. We reviewed our ongoing collaboration in the Partnership for Growth and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. We recognized the efforts being taken by the Philippine government in resolving human rights cases and discussed positive developments in the prosecution of abuses. We emphasized a mutual commitment to these efforts.”
The two sides also announced upcoming opportunities for further high-level engagement, including a visit by Assistant Secretary of State for Political and Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro to the Philippines in February and a visit to the Philippines by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis in late February to discuss economic issues and the interest of the Philippines in potentially joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Among the highlights of cooperation between the two countries during the past years are as follows:
Defense and Security Cooperation
- Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Foreign Affairs del Rosario, and Secretary of Defense Gazmin signed the Manila Declaration on November 16, 2011, aboard the USS Fitzgerald; the Declaration reaffirms both countries’ shared obligations under the Mutual Defense Treaty and charts a vision for a multi-faceted alliance for the 21st century.
- The United States transferred the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Hamilton, now the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, to the Philippine Navy, supporting Philippine maritime domain awareness. The transfer of a second cutter is pending U.S. congressional review;
REMOVAL OF 360K POUNDS OF LEFTOVER ORDNANCE
- The Philippine Government streamlined the diplomatic clearance process for U.S. military aircraft and ships, enhancing opportunities for training and interoperability;
- The United States provided advanced officer training and communications equipment to the Philippine Coast Guard;
- The governments signed a statement of intent to allow joint missions to recover remains of American military personnel deployed in the Philippines during World War II;
- At the request of President Aquino, the U.S. and Philippine Governments collaborated in removing more than 360,000 pounds of leftover WWII naval ordnance from Caballo Island in February 2011.
Prosperity and Governance
- Secretary Clinton and Secretary del Rosario signed a Joint Statement of Principles on November 16, 2011, for the U.S.-Philippines Partnership for Growth (PFG) and established a Joint Action Plan to guide its implementation;
- Also in November, the two countries’ senior trade officials signed a Trade and Customs Facilitation agreement on the sidelines of the APEC conference in Honolulu, continued discussions on a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, and further discussed the Philippines’ interest in eventually joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership;
$26-MILLION MEGAPORTS INITIATIVE SYSTEM
- The governments oversaw the entry-into-force of the US’s $434 million Millennium Challenge Corporation compact in May 2011, ahead of schedule. The three compact projects are underway, and;
- Presidents Obama and Aquino, together with six other founding countries, launched the Open Government Partnership in September 2011 and welcomed the commitment of over 40 governments to improve transparency, accountability, and civic participation in 21st century governance.
Rule of Law and Law Enforcement
- The governments commissioned a $26-million Megaports Initiative system at the Port of Manila to help deter, detect, and interdict illicit shipments of nuclear and other radioactive materials;
- The Philippines formed an interagency airport task force with support from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to interdict trafficking and help enforce anti-narcotics laws at Ninoy Aquino International Airport;
- Following successful cooperation between our law enforcement agencies, the United States returned to the Philippines ill-gotten wealth from former military comptroller Jacinto Ligot and the sons of former military comptroller Carlos Garcia;
- Several U.S. agencies helped enhance police and forensics capabilities in Mindanao, and;
- The U.S. assisted Philippine anti-corruption institutions in increasing their ability to gather and analyze evidence.
Regional and Global Cooperation
- As the country coordinator for the U.S.-ASEAN dialogue, the Philippines worked closely with the United States on a number of issues and facilitated President Obama’s participation in the Third U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Meeting in Bali. Areas of Philippine cooperation included successful consultations with nuclear weapons states (NWS), including the United States, that resolved outstanding issues and should ultimately enable the NWS to sign the Protocol to the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty;
- The United States and the Philippines cooperated closely in the region’s multilateral bodies, including the ASEAN Regional Forum and East Asia Summit (EAS). At the EAS in Bali, Presidents Obama and Aquino made strong statements on the region’s pressing political and strategic issues, including maritime security, nonproliferation, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and;
- The Philippines and the United States, working with Australia, co-chaired a workshop on disease detection and surveillance for ASEAN Regional Forum participants, the third in an on-going series of annual biosecurity workshops held in Manila.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) and Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario (R) sign an agreement of partnership for growth as witnessed by President Benigno Aquino (C) during her two-day visit at the Malacanang palace in Manila November 16, 2011.