Goldberg: Increased US presence to boost PH's disaster response

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Dec. 2, 2013

MANILA – The completion of a framework agreement on increased rotational presence of US troops is among the top priorities of the newly designated ambassador of the United States to the Philippines.

Ambassador Philip Goldberg cited the benefits of expanding the security cooperation of the two countries, saying that aside from helping the Philippine military build a “minimum defense capability,” it would also be helpful in disaster and humanitarian response.

Details of the agreement continue to be under negotiation.

“What I can say is that it’s important for both countries. It’s important for the Philippines, I think, as we saw with the super typhoon ‘Yolanda’, to have even a greater ability to provide for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The ability to have that a little bit faster and, more efficiently, we’ll always be of help,” Goldberg told reporters after presenting his credentials to President Aquino in Malacañang.

“There are reasons to build minimal defense capability and maritime defense awareness. That will come with a framework agreement. So, ultimately, these are decisions that have to be taken by both governments. But I think it’s inherently in the interest of both to move forward and I hope it will happen as soon as possible.”

NO BASES

Goldberg reiterated that the US does not intend to build new bases here under the agreement.

“We’re not talking about bases or any kind of new bases for the United States. This is about our capacity to help the Philippine government and military as it advances in many areas in its own interests. So, as I said, I hope it’s as soon as possible.”

US WON’T TAKE SIDES

He also reiterated the oft-stated American position of not taking sides in the Philippines’ territorial disputes with China, only saying that it supports a legal, peaceful, and diplomatic approach to resolving the disputes.

This includes the creation of a code of conduct for claimants and the Philippines’ move to bring its dispute with China before an arbitral tribunal.

The US is keeping its position unchanged even as it has expressed concern over China’s establishment of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea.

While the US believes establishing the ADIZ would only create “tension and the possibility of miscalculations,” Goldberg said it advised US airlines to notify China when travelling through the ADIZ to avoid miscalculation.

“We believe in free navigation whether it’s in the air or on sea. That’s where the United States stands, and we will continue to press those beliefs, and we will support the peaceful and legal, diplomatic efforts underway to resolve tensions,” he said.

“We don’t take sides and we are not a claimant state on any of these territorial features. But at the same time, we strongly support the countries of this region coming together for a Code of Conduct, which will help set out the rules of the road or the rules of the sea, and will be a way for tensions to decrease. The same is true of any legal recourse that the Philippine government has taken.”

SUPPORT FOR POST-YOLANDA RELIEF

Goldberg expressed the US’ commitment to help the Philippines in its relief and rehabilitation efforts for areas affected by super typhoon “Yolanda” as he conveyed his condolences to the people affected.

“The United States will remain with the Philippines as you move from the relief period into reconstruction. And the United States will take the lead of the Philippine government in areas that are most urgent for rehabilitation and reconstruction,” he said.

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  • JD
    3 December 2013 at 8:45 am - Reply

    Goldberg , you said it right No position of not taking sides in the philippines terrtorial disputes with china. Stay out of it because we U.S. Americans feel it’s not our problem ! It’s up to philippines to fix they problem with china !

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