AAP staff report
WASHINGTON (April 30, 2012) — The U.S. Department of State hosted a historic gathering to celebrate “Deepening the Security and Strategic Partnership”, and event to reflect the deep-rooted and multifaceted relationship between the United States and The Philippines.
The event followed meetings between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who met with their Philippine counterparts, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario and Secretary of Defense Voltaire Gazmin on Monday in Washington, D.C.
Notable examples of our broad bilateral cooperation include:
• We continue to enhance our cooperation and force interoperability in the areas of humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and maritime security, conducting nearly 20 combined exercises every year, including the recently completed 28th iteration of Exercise “Balikatan” (“Shoulder-to-Shoulder”).
• The Republic of the Philippines is a committed peacekeeping provider, deploying nearly 1,000 troops, police and civilians to United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions annually. The United States supports the Philippines’ peacekeeping role through continued funding and training.
• There were over 100 U.S. ship visits to the Philippines last year. In June 2012, the U.S. hospital ship the USNS Mercy will provide medical, dental, and veterinary services to Filipinos on the islands of Samar, Basilan, and Sulu. U.S. personnel also intend to partner with counterparts from the Philippine armed forces to construct and renovate school and health facilities.
• The Philippines actively participates in military training, education, and exchange opportunities in the United States. More than 500 Philippine military personnel completed programs through the U.S. military system in the last fiscal year. Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadets have also been accepted into each of the major U.S. service academies.
• A founding member of ASEAN, the Philippines is the current ASEAN country coordinator for the United States, and will host the U.S.-ASEAN Dialogue in Manila this May, along with the first meeting of the U.S.-ASEAN Eminent Persons Group.
Promoting Economic Cooperation
• The United States and the Philippines are engaged in a Partnership for Growth (PFG) launched by Secretaries Clinton and del Rosario in Manila last November. We have commenced work on a number of PFG priorities aimed at enhancing the trade and investment environment, improving anti-corruption enforcement effectiveness, and helping streamline the administration of justice in the Philippines.
• Since launching the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact in 2010 for $434 million to reduce poverty through economic growth, MCC has supported the Philippine government’s efforts to decrease corruption in tax collection, enabling the Philippine Bureau of Internal Revenue to increase tax collection last year by over 20 percent.
• Filipino professionals, including educators and medical professionals, have through their competence and dedication, made significant contributions to U.S. society.
Advancing People-to-People Ties
• The annual “Memphis in May” international festival in Tennessee will salute the Philippines as this year’s featured country. The month-long exposé will include authentic Philippine cuisine, dance performances, and art exhibits.
• The Fulbright program in the Philippines is the world’s oldest continuous program. Since its inception in 1948, Fulbright grants have been awarded to 1,700 Filipinos and 700 Americans for graduate degree study, teaching, and research in the Philippines and the United States. Another 70 Filipino professionals have gone to the United States on Humphrey fellowships.
• More than 8,590 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in the Philippines since the program was established in 1961. Volunteers work in the areas of education, community development, and coastal resource management.
Enshrining Principles of Good Governance and Rule of Law
• Recognizing the actions taken to eliminate corruption, the US and the Philippines are steering committee members of the Open Government Partnership, which aims to develop norms and standards for open governance, transparency and civil society participation.
• The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency this year increased their counter-narcotics cooperation at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport resulting in several drug seizures, including 20 kilograms of methamphetamine, and the arrest of 11 drug couriers.
• With the assistance of various U.S. interagency partners, the Philippine National Police established a Special Boat Unit based in Palawan. Operational since late 2010, efforts have yielded the arrest of 165 persons at sea, seizure of 12 vessels and substantial contraband.
• Through training programs, the U.S. State Department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance program has strengthened the counterterrorism capacity of the Philippine National Police. This includes establishing facilities for Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) training and a Forensics Laboratory used by police for post-blast investigations. This summer, the U.S. and Philippine governments jointly will host an APEC workshop on measures to combat bus terrorism.