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Philippine Embassy

News Release

02 June 2009

US renews commitment to aid RP in fight vs terror

Manila (PNA) — The top security official of the administration of United
States President Barack Obama on Monday renewed the commitment of his
government in helping the Philippines address threats posed by terrorists
and extremist groups.

In a press conference at the Armed Forces general headquarters in Camp
Aguinaldo, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he is also looking
forward to a broader and deeper defense cooperation with the Philippines.

Gates and Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodor earlier figured in
a one-on-meeting inside the camp to discuss issues of mutual concerns,
including the global threat of terrorism and responding to the threat of
disasters.

“I look forward to meeting a few Filipino troops after this meeting. I
will tell them as (I) told Secretary Teodoro – that we are partners and
we’ll continue to strongly support their efforts to defeat terrorists and
extremists threatening their country and the region,” said Gates.

“Together, we will not relent until this threat has been eliminated,” said
Gates. The US has been a great partner of the Philippines in the fight
against terrorist over the past several years.

The Americans have trained and equipped the elite Light Reaction Battalion
of the Army. Also, a number of US forces are still in the South, training
Filipino troops fight the Abu Sayyaf and providing the needed intelligence
information.

“Looking forward, I believe our relation needs to evolve into a broader,
strategic one. The Philippines can play an important role in regional
peace and stability and in fact just hosted the Asean regional forum’s
first ever field exercise,” said Gates.

“I also thank the Philippines for its contribution to aid United Nations
missions. It is clear that the Philippines is taking on a larger role on
the world stage and as it does, this relationship, one of our oldest
alliance partnership in Asia, is one that I believe that will endure and
deepen in the years to come,” he added.

For his part, Teodoro thanked Gates for visiting the country. This is the
first visit of a US defense chief to the Philippines in nearly 10 years.
Gates has been in the country about 20 years ago on a different capacity.

“We had a good conversation about a number of issues from United States
assistance to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to broader regional
security matters,” said Gates on the issues he discussed with Teodoro
during a brief meeting.

“Over the last decade, the Philippines has faced a number of security
challenges and has met them squarely. This is testimony to Secretary
Teodoro’s strong leadership, his efforts to reform the Armed Forces and a
courage and adaptability of the Filipino military,” said Gates.

On the call of some groups to review or abrogate the RP-US Visiting Forces
Agreement, Gates said US is satisfied with the current VFA, that provides
legal framework to all joint exercise between US and Filipino forces.

Some quarters are clamoring for review or abrogation of the agreement
following the problem on the custody issue on Lance Corporal Daniel Smith
who had been convicted by a Makati City court of raping a Filipino. He was
later exonerated by a higher court.

During the course of the case, Smith stayed at the US embassy in Manila
when he, the proponents said, should be with the control of the Philippine
government.

“The United States is quite comfortable with the VFA. We are both nations
of laws. This agreement provides us with the legal basis for having our
people here in partnership with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. We
think it works and we are satisfied,” said Gates.

————————–

Reference:

Consul Gines Gallaga

Press and Information Officer

Email: ggallaga@cox.net

Tel: 202-467-9432

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