John Kerry: We will defend PH
MANILA - Newly-installed US Secretary of State John Kerry immediately went to work and made a phone call to Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario to inform the Philippines of the United States’ continued support for its territorial defense.
In a statement, del Rosario said the call last night was about both nations’ deeper cooperation. “We exchanged views on the implementation of our agreed policy of increased rotational presence, enhanced exercises and capacity building,” he said.
The cooperation will focus on a wide range of key, strategic initiatives, particularly in the area of security and defense, he said. Besides these, Kerry also mentioned humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
On the West Philippine Sea dispute, he said Kerry gave his support for the efforts of the Philippines to resolve the conflicting claims through the rule of law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
“I discussed with Secretary Kerry our initiative of bringing the West Philippine Sea issue to arbitration under UNCLOS. I emphasized the importance of this initiative to the future stability of our region in particular and to the future efficacy of international law in general,” he said.
When he was still in the Senate, Kerry was a moving force behind a resolution on the peaceful settlement of disputes in the West Philippine Sea, del Rosario noted.
Kerry also wants closer relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. “We agreed that one area for this is the US initiative to train ASEAN seafarers and that the Philippines, given its recognized accomplishments in enhancing the skills of seafarers, can take the lead on this,” he said.
Kerry also gave his highest regard for the leadership of President Benigno Aquino, he said.
Kerry, who replaced Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, said he has always been close to the Philippines. He was part of the election monitoring team headed by Senator Richard Lugar in 1986.
Lugar is the US Senator who prominently denounced the poll fraud in the snap elections between then President Ferdinand Marcos and housewife Corazon Aquino.