Pres. Obama: U.S. commitment to defend Philippines is ironclad

MANILA – United States President Barack Obama on Tuesday reiterated that the US government is committed to defend the Philippines against any external armed attacks.

Obama said that the US government’s commitment to defend the Philippines is ironclad and that the United States will keep that commitment, because allies never stand alone.

The US President noted that for more than 60 years, a mutual defense treaty has bound the US and the Philippines with a common pledge saying “common determination to defend themselves against external armed attacks, so that no potential aggressor could be under the illusion that either of them stands alone.”

Speaking before 300 Filipino and American soldiers at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig and a day after the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which will allow US forces greater access to Philippine military facilities, Obama said that President Aquino and he “agreed to begin a new chapter in our alliance and under our new agreement, American forces can begin rotating through Filipino airfields and ports.

He added that the agreement will also allow US and Filipino forces to train and exercise together, in an effort to strengthen the armed forces.

Obama said such training would improve the ability of the armed forces to respond even faster to disasters like Typhoon Yolanda even as he took the opportunity to honor several Filipino and American troops who responded during the aftermath of the super typhoon in Tacloban.

Those he cited were Captain Roy Trinidad of the Philippine Navy SEAL; Colonel Mike Wylie of the United States Marines; and US Air Force Major George Apalisok, who is a Filipino-American.

Obama again stressed that disputes between China and other Asian countries should be resolved peacefully and not by threat and coercion.

“We believe that nations and peoples have the right to live in security and peace, and to have their sovereignty and territorial integrity respected. We believe that international law must be upheld, that freedom of navigation must be preserved and commerce must not be impeded,” the President said.

“We believe that disputes must be resolved peacefully and not by intimidation or force. That’s what our nations stand for. That’s the future we’re working for. And that’s why your service is so important,” he added.

President Obama left the country last April 29, ending his four-nation Asian tour that included Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.#