Closer relations between US and the Philippines seen under President Biden
MANILA – Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel del Gallego Romualdez today said the United States of America is keenly observing events in the Asia-Pacific.
In a short Q & A at the FOCAP Prospects for 2021 Forum Friday morning, Ambassador Romualdez said even before President Joe Biden took over from President Donald Trump, they have already reached out to the Biden camp “to get a feel” of possible changes in foreign policy.
“The policy mentioned by then Secretary of State Michael Pompeo will continue and we’re glad,” he said. He added the United States has expressed concern over the events between China and Taiwan where “some form of tension” has been reported and with the deployment of the USS Roosevelt in the area.
“We’re watching carefully,” he explained.
Asked of his views on the latest law China passed authorizing its Coast Guard to “take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea,” Ambassador Romualdez said his American counterparts expressed concern.
“One of the Assistant Secretaries at the Pentagon informed us that they are not only concerned, they see it ot a very good sign,” he said.
He added they would like to see where the law’s going.
“Am afraid we have to be more circumspect with our relations with both countries, (referring to both China and the United States),” he said. The Filipino diplomat said he’s sure Washington will be on the side of the Philppines should anything untoward happen to Filipino fishermen.
When asked of the status of the Visiting Forces Agreement, Ambassador Romualdez said there will be a top-level bilateral meeting next month and the discussions will touch on the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement.
“The VFA is up for renewal this coming August,” Ambassador Romualdez further said. (Melo M. Acuña)
Philippine Ambassador to Washington, D. C. Jose Manuel del Gallego Romualdez. (Screen grab from FOCAP Prospects for 2021 Forum/Melo M. Acuna)