WASHINGTON – President Benigno Aquino III will meet with US President Barack Obama on Friday and he is expected to bring up the issue about the Philippines' territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea.
President Aquino arrived at the Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on a chartered Philippine Airlines flight from London.
His officials couldn't say enough the importance of the 3-day official working visit, as the Philippines looks to the United States to expand military and economic assistance to its weaker ally in Southeast Asia.
Filipino-American advocates are also appealing to Aquino to discuss with Obama the Medicare Portability Act that would enable retired Filipino-American immigrants access to US Medicare even if they are in the Philippines.
“We are here to support our Medicare recipients and families so they can enjoy being in the Philippines using their Medicare benefits,” said Marissa Usman, president of the Phil. Nurses Association of the Washington DC metropolitan region.
“Allowing Medicare to be brought to the Philippines is a win-win situation. Makakatipid ‘yung gobyerno ng US at makakatipid ‘yung mga Fil-Am na retirees sa Pilipinas,” said Eric Lachica.
There are 3.4 million Filipino-Americans according to the 2010 census, making them the second biggest Asian-American group in the US.
Although traditionally conservative and with a voting history of supporting Republican candidates, over 58% of Fil-Ams went for Obama in 2008.
Aside from the bilateral talks, Aquino will also attend to several business meetings in Washington DC.
First up on the President's schedule is the dinner launch of the US Philippine society, a private initiative aimed at strengthening educational, cultural, tourism and people to people ties between the US and the Philippines. In this town, that's usually a euphemism for a lobby group.
The Philippines, for instance, is trying to influence decision makers in the US government to push for the Save Act, which could pave the way for a trade agreement between our two countries and give the Philippines access to surplus military equipment.