IN CONTRAST to the Duterte administration’s sharp, anti-American rhetoric, guests at the cocktail reception send-off for US Ambassador Philip Goldberg on Wednesday pointed to the importance of strong ties between Washington and Manila.
Former President Fidel V. Ramos said the Philippines should pursue an “interdependent” foreign policy instead of the independent policy espoused by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Thank you very much for putting us together to assure our friend, [Ambassador] Philip Goldberg, that friendship should never change, but indeed must be multiplied with you people so that in the end according to the UN in the year 2030, we are just one community and one family. We can do this,” Ramos said at the reception hosted by the Manila Overseas Press Club to honor Goldberg, whom Duterte had once characterized as an “annoying homosexual.”
“That is why I am saying it is not an independent foreign policy anymore that counts for the Philippines. It is an interdependent foreign policy… densely intertwined by so many common interests, climate change, more exports and imports, a stable monetary currency and cultural exchange,” Ramos told the crowd of politicians, businessmen, journalists and members of the diplomatic corps.
Ramos said maintaining peace should be the global leaders’ top priority because “the world will be obliterated in 25 minutes because of these weapons of mass destruction.”
Goldberg agreed that the “interdependent foreign policy” he was proposing that the Philippines adopt would be good for the stability and development of the entire world.
“I think that the Philippines should have a good relationship with its neighbors. It should have a good relationship with China. It should have a good relationship with all countries. That is something we support [because] that is good for security, that is good for the United States also,” Goldberg said.
Philippine Constitution Association president Martin Romualdez expressed high hopes that the country’s alliance with the US would continue to deepen and strengthen amid new challenges in the Asia-Pacific region.
Romualdez said the “warm ties that have been nurtured through the.years should live, expand and further develop” for the “the strategic interests of the Filipino and American people.”
“We are hoping that the assistance will continue and the relationship strengthens for the greater interests of the people and the world. The Philippines is an ally and strategic partner of the US and we should remain committed to work on deepening our warm ties,” Romualdez said in an interview during the event.
His wife, Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez, said the alliance between the Philippines and US was about protecting not only the interests of Filipinos and Americans, but also being steadfast in ensuring prosperity, peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
During the event, the Romualdez couple and former Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez presented separate plaques of appreciation to Goldberg for his great contribution in extending help to Tacloban City, considered ground zero, and other Super Typhoon “Yolanda”-stricken areas.
“We cannot forget his [Goldberg’s] help after the Super Typhoon ‘Yolanda’ destroyed most of our regions,” Martin Romualdez said.
For his part, Alfred Romualdez, former mayor of Tacloban City, expressed the city’s profound gratitude for Goldberg’s assistance.
“We are thankful for the participation of the US government through the ambassador. Even the visit of the secretary of state was very meaningful and [it helped in economic recovery],” the former mayor said.
He said the support of the US and the European Union turned out to be even bigger than the support given by the Aquino administration.
“[But now its] much, much better. That is why President Duterte feels that he is confident we can do without the help of other countries because he feels and I think we have a more competent leadership now than we had before,” he added.
In his speech, Goldberg thanked the Romualdezes for recognizing his contribution in providing aid and assistance and the rebuilding of Yolanda-hit areas.
The send-off party for Goldberg, who wrapped up his three-year tour, was attended by Senators Grace Poe, Franklin Drilon, Cynthia Villar and Antonio Trillanes IV.
Earlier, Martin Romualdez honored Goldberg and recalled that the US Ambassador immediately rushed to Tacloban City and Palo in Leyte that were heavily hit by Yolanda.
“You [Goldberg] have showed ‘malasakit’ [compassion] to the victims during and after the onslaught of Super Typhoon ‘Yolanda.’ You have inspired us and lifted our spirits. As you can see we have come a long way. But, we still have to work together. From the bottom of my heart, thank you very much,” said Romualdez who conveyed the people of Region’s VIII heartfelt gratitude to the US government and other donors for its financial assistance to Yolanda-hit communities.
“He [Goldberg] is one of the many world leaders and individuals who rescued and provide new hope to us. Remembering the rise of Yolanda-stricken areas will be incomplete without expressing our profound gratitude to him and all other donors,” Romualdez said.
Last week, the House of Representatives adopted Resolution 15 to confer Goldberg the Golden Mace Award for his “efforts in further enriching the ties between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America” and helping Yolanda victims.
HR 15 was principally sponsored by President Rodrigo Duterte’s allies led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas.
The senators led by Drilon also held a send-off dinner for Goldberg at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel on Friday.
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