MANILA – House of Representatives Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Wednesday said the Philippine-United States relations are reaching new heights and levels of understanding after the series of meetings with US House Majority Leader Steve Scalise and other US lawmakers in the US Capitol, Washington DC.
According to a news release from Romualdez’s office, Scalise (Louisiana, 1st congressional district) was delighted to see the Philippine delegation and warmly welcomed them at the Office of the Majority Leader.
“We, from the House of Representatives in Manila thank Majority Leader Scalise for his warm welcome, his kind words, and most importantly his commitment to further strengthening Philippine and US ties in various aspects. It was a fruitful and engaging meeting, to say the very least, and I feel that we are reaching new heights and levels of understanding,” Romualdez said.
He said the Philippine government under President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has reintegrated relations with the US to provide stability, peace, and prosperity, especially in enhancing our capability for defense and stronger economic security.
“Let’s make the two countries closer. We are here to gather support from US Congress to strengthen and improve our capabilities from external threats and national disasters,” Romualdez added.
The Philippine delegation also held separate meetings with US Representatives Darrell Issa, Ami Bera, Mike Rogers (chairman of the House Armed Services Committee), and Christian Stewart, as well as Utah Attorney General Sean David Reyes, a Filipino-American.
During the meetings, they discussed strategies to strengthen economic cooperation, defense and security engagements, as well as bilateral strategic dialogue between the two long-time allied nations.
“This solidifies the good working relationship between President Marcos and President (Joe) Biden. Rest assured that legislators from both sides of the fence will follow through with the necessary work so that the benefits of this dynamic relationship would become more tangible tenfold,” Romualdez said.
As a treaty ally, the Philippines has been receiving substantial defense assistance from the US in terms of training and defense items and equipment.
From 2002 to 2021, the Philippines received defense and security assistance at roughly USD1.8 billion for defense modernization, maritime security, counter-terrorism, anti-narcotics, anti-human trafficking, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear preparedness.
On the economic front, Washington remains an important and strategic trading and investment partner of Manila. This economic partnership remained strong despite challenges brought about by the pandemic.
In 2021, the US was the Philippines’ third largest trading partner, top export market, and fifth major import source, whereas the Philippines ranked 30th among the US’ top trade partners. The US was also the Philippines’ fifth largest source of foreign investments in 2021, notably in the IT-BPM, electronics, real estate, construction, and transportation and storage sectors.
American businesses, including Fortune 500 companies, have found a home in the Philippines. They recognize the Philippines for its business-friendly policies, skilled and well-educated workforce, and network of economic zones.
“With our strong economy, we invited the US to increase and expand its investments. Just recently I was with the economic team of President Marcos to help generate more investments during the 2023 World Bank Group-International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings,” Romualdez said. “Now the congressional delegation of the House leadership is engaging their counterparts in the US Congress. We are working all out with our strong message to come to the Philippines and invest there.”
Joining Romualdez were Majority Leader and Zamboanga 2nd District Rep. Manual Jose Dalipe, Deputy Speaker and Pampanga 3rd District Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr., Navotas City Rep. Tobias Tiangco, Agusan del Norte 1st District Rep. Jose S. Aquino II, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel del Gallego Romualdez, House Secretary General Reginald Velasco, and House Sergeant-at-Arms PMGEN. Napoleon Taas. (PNA)