US senator in Manila for financial, security talks

Posted at 01/22/2014 12:38 PM

WASHINGTON, DC – Florida Sen. Marco Rubio arrived in Manila Tuesday evening to meet with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and other Philippine and US officials to discuss financial and security issues on Wednesday.

In a statement, Rubio said: “Asia is vitally important to the future of America’s security, and economic well-being. America must make sure that our rhetoric about increasing our presence in Asia does not come at the expense of enduring alliances and challenges in other parts of the world.”

Accompanied by his Filipino-American Chief of Staff Cesar Conda, the highest-ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations East Asian and Pacific Affairs subcommittee and a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence is on a week-long trip to Japan, the Philippines and South Korea.

“For the Philippines, there are two main issues that we’ll talk about, one is the South China Sea issue,” Conda said.

“We want to learn more about China’s activities there and what the Philippines is doing and how the United States can help.”

Conda said Rubio is also set to discuss economic issues with Aquino to strengthen the existing close trading relationship between the two allies.

The Republican senator’s other mission in the Philippines is to review the ongoing recovery efforts in the Typhoon Haiyan-affected areas.

Rubio is expected to visit Tacloban on Wednesday, one of the worst devastated cities in the Haiyan tragedy.

Conda said the US has spent $86 million in humanitarian and disaster relief assistance to the Philippines.

“We want to see what the impact has been and we want to learn how the US can continue the recovery efforts going forward,” said Conda.

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia Jr. said he is hoping that Rubio’s visit will further convince Washington in a long term involvement and commitment to the rebuilding process in the Super Typhoon-devastated areas.

Cuisia said while the rebuilding and recovery process remains a challenge, the Philippines has now unveiled an $8.2 billion reconstruction roadmap.

“We’ll need about $8.2 billion in terms of resources for rebuilding homes, school buildings and hospitals and so on,” Cuisia said.

“The Philippine government has set aside about $2.8 billion so the balance we hope we’ll be able to raise from the international community.”

Rubio will then travel to South Korea to visit US troops and meet with South Korean President Park Geun-Hye.