Palace: Arroyo, Obama already have understanding on issues


Posted at Nov 08 2008 01:49 PM | Updated as of Nov 09 2008 10:31 AM

He may have failed to take President Arroyo's phone call after being elected as the 44th president of the United States earlier this week but Barack Obama and the Philippine leader already have an understanding of pressing issues concerning their respective countries, a Malacañang official said Saturday.

"With reference to a letter to President Arroyo on June 24, 2008, during the [her] last working visit to the United States, President-elect Obama outlined issues and concerns for collaboration between the Philippines and the United States hinged on a "partnership that makes progress on 21st century challenges," Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said.

He said the these issues include climate change, food security, poverty reduction, the future of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, human rights in Burma and defense reform.

"President-elect Obama expressed confidence in successfully addressing these challenges," Ermita said.

He added that in the letter, Obama cited the "shared history" between the US and the Philippines.

"This bond is enriched by a vibrant and successful  Filipino-American community that has made such enormous contributions to our country (the United States)," Ermita quoted Obama's letter as saying.

In addition, Obama noted the historical paths that the two countries have taken through the years, starting from World War II up to the Cold War and down to the present global campaign against terrorism.

The Palace statement was issued following reports that Mrs. Arroyo got no return call from Obama after she called him up for a congratulatory message.

This came as Obama called up leaders of world powers after his historic win on Tuesday to thank them and accept their congratulations.

These leaders included Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Southeast Asia assured of Obama help

US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney, meanwhile, assured Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines, of good days ahead with Barack Obama in the White House.

"He spent several childhood years in Southeast Asia. That is gonna be good news. I think when you grow up already loving Southeast Asia, with the region close to you heart, for us here, that is gonna be good news," Kenney said over ABS-CBN's morning show, "Umagang Kay Ganda."

Obama, whose father hails from Kenya, lived in Indonesia for four years. He went to a grade school in Jakarta. The US president-elect was born in Hawaii. Reports said that he has Filipino immigrant friends who hail from the Ilocos region.

Kenney said that based on Obama's historic speech after being elected by Americans to the White House on Tuesday, the president-elect has indicated his "global outlook" and promised to "reach out" to America's friends around the world.