U.S. To Help Secure Philippine Coasts

CHICAGO (JGLi) —  The United States boosted its alliance with the Philippines by helping the Philippines’ maritime security as it plans to help build a new National Coast Watch Center in the Philippines.

U.S. State Department Secretary Hillary Clinton announced Friday (June 8) in the Ben Franklin Room of the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. during a luncheon she hosted for Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III that “I’m pleased to announce today that the United States will support the construction, outfitting, and training of a new National Coast Watch Center in the Philippines.”

 

The announcement is a major boost to a National Coast Watch System formed by President Aquino last September to supplant the Commission on Maritime and Ocean Affairs created in 2007 with initial funding of 20-Million Pesos or nearly half-million U.S. dollars. The NCWS is designed to “safeguard national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest and the right to self-determination.”

“As allies, our two nations consult on important regional issues, as we have done regarding our respective diplomacy in the South China Sea,” Secretary Clinton said. “As I’ve said many times, the United States does not take a position on the competing territorial claims in the South China Sea. But we do, however, have a clear interest in the maintenance of peace and stability, freedom of navigation, respect for international law, and unimpeded lawful.”

CLINTON COMMENDS AQUINO

Clinton also commended President Aquino for defusing “tensions surrounding the Scarborough Reef,” adding “we encourage continued diplomatic dialogue and further efforts to lessen tension, to disengage, and to resolve the situation peacefully.” She reiterated the U.S. “opposes the use of force or coercion by any claimant to advance its claim, and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

Mrs. Clinton also disclosed that she just signed with Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario a new agreement “that will spur joint efforts on science and technology, because when our scientists share their ideas and their resources, not only do our two countries but the world reaps the benefits.”

She also disclosed that there will be an increase in the number of the U.S. Peace Corps volunteers in the Philippines.

Mrs. Clinton said she celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Mutual Defense Treaty in Manila, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and herself co-hosted their counterparts for the first time ever last April during the “2+2” meeting. “Our special forces have been working side by side with their Filipino counterparts. We are also working closely together to increase information and intelligence exchanges and coordination on maritime domain issues.”

She also urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China to conclude their efforts to craft a code of conduct for the South China Sea.

In his response to Clinton, Aquino highlighted the enduring partnership between the two countries that leave no one behind.

“We are clearly at a new junction in our relations. While we both remain grounded in our shared history and in the democratic principles and values we both hold, our success is also about what we can do together – to build a more stable region and to achieve an even more prosperous future for both our people,” Aquino said.

“I see a very rewarding future ahead of us as we work on the different elements that comprise our partnership, such as our ties in defense and security, in our economies and amongst our peoples,” the President added.

He said, “We stand shoulder to shoulder as partners committed to each other’s security and prosperity.”

After the luncheon, Mr. Aquino and party proceeded to the White House for a meeting with President Barack Obama, where they discussed resolution dispute in South China Sea or Philippine Western Sea. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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