MANILA — Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Thursday expressed optimism the forthcoming meeting between President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. and US President Joe Biden will ultimately pay huge dividends for the Philippines, particularly in terms of security and the economy that will create more investment opportunities and jobs for Filipinos.
The Speaker has waged a diplomatic blitz to help lay the groundwork for the visit of President Marcos by meeting with American lawmakers to discuss ways of further strengthening defense and security cooperation and economic partnership between the Philippines and the United States.
“The meeting between President Marcos and US President Biden will further reinforce the robust long-term bilateral relations between the Philippines and the United States and I am confident it would redound to huge dividends for our country in terms of security and increased economic cooperation, among others,” Speaker Romualdez said.
The Speaker is still in the US, following up on his earlier interactions with his US counterpart, Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and other key American legislators and government officials, as he awaits the arrival of President Marcos.
Apart from meeting with McCarthy, the Speaker and his delegation also had dialogues with US House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, and Representatives Young Kim, Mike Rogers, Darrell Issa, Ami Bera, and Chris Stewart.
An official US State Department statement said that during the visit, “President Biden will reaffirm the United States’ ironclad commitment to the defense of the Philippines, and the leaders will discuss efforts to strengthen the longstanding U.S.-Philippines alliance.”
For his part, President Marcos said he would seek a review and assessment of the commitments under the 70-year Mutual Defense Treaty between the two countries stressing that the alliance must “evolve” to address the emerging geopolitical realities, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Security and stability are indispensable ingredients for continued economic growth and prosperity. An improved iron-clad alliance between the two countries would greatly contribute to the realization of President Marcos’ vision for sustained economic growth that would provide jobs and livelihood for the Filipinos,” Speaker Romualdez noted.
As part of the defense pact between the two countries, 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 country received roughly US$1.8 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.
In addition to security matters, Marcos and Biden are also expected to “review opportunities to deepen economic cooperation and promote inclusive prosperity, expand our nations’ special people-to-people ties, invest in the clean energy transition and the fight against climate change, and ensure respect for human rights.”
Speaker Romualdez noted that Washington remains an important and strategic trading and investment partner of Manila.
In 2021, the US was the Philippines’ 3rd largest trading partner, top export market, and 5th major import source, whereas the Philippines ranked 30th among the US’ top trade partners.
The US was also the Philippines’ 5th largest source of foreign investments in 2021, notably in the IT-BPM, electronics, real estate, construction, and transportation and storage sectors.
Romualdez and his delegation to the US also engaged their US counterparts to promote the Philippines as an ideal investment destination for US businesses, citing the robust economic outlook for the country.
“With our strong economy, we invited the US to increase and expand its investments,” Speaker Romualdez said.
Just recently, the Speaker joined the economic team of President Marcos to help generate more investments during the 2023 World Bank Group-International Monetary Fund (WBG-IMF) Spring Meetings.
“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,” he added.
Joining Speaker Romualdez in the meetings with US lawmakers were House Majority Leader and Zamboanga City 2nd District Rep. Manuel Jose “Mannix” M. Dalipe, House Deputy Speaker and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr. of Pampanga’s 3rd District, Navotas City Rep. Tobias “Toby” Tiangco, Agusan del Norte 1st District Rep. Jose “Joboy” S. Aquino II, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel “Babe” del Gallego Romualdez, House Secretary General Reginald “Reggie” Velasco, and House Sergeant-at-Arms PMGen Napoleon Taas.
“In addition to increased investments, our economy would profit from the expected assistance the US can provide us in combatting the effects of climate change. This would help in our efforts not only to improve food security but also in mitigating the effects of global warming,” Speaker Romualdez pointed out.
President Marcos said that his meeting with top US officials will likewise include discussions on “green bonds,” or financial instruments linked to climate change solutions and specific projects to help reduce carbon emissions.Amado Inigo/MTVN)