MANILA, Philippines - No less than United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stood by Manny Pacquiao, calling his win over Juan Manuel Marquez a “great victory” despite the controversy it generated.
“I end today with just a personal comment. Some praise for a native son of the Philippines who is making headlines across the world. We know that the Pacman had another great victory. As I said in the last time I was in Manila, I am a major Pacman fan,” Clinton said in her opening remarks during the official launch of the US-Philippines Partnership for Growth in Malacanang.
Using boxing lingo, Clinton then reaffirmed the United States’ support for the Philippines in several fronts.
“And in the spirit of his sport and his success, let me say the United States will always be in the corner of the Philippines. We will always stand and fight with you to achieve the future we seek,” Clinton said.
Clinton’s visit came at a time of renewed tensions in the West Philippine Sea where the Philippines is locked in a territorial dispute with China, Vietnam and other claimants.
Responding to a question during the press conference, Clinton said the US wants the issue resolved peacefully.
“We are strongly of the opinion that the disputes that the foreign secretary referred to that exist primarily in the West Philippine Sea between the Philippines and China should be resolved peacefully,” Clinton said.
While it is ready to help the Philippines upgrade its defense capabilities, the United States is not taking any sides when the Philippines seeks to validate its territorial claim in an international arbitration or conciliation body. But the United States warned that claimant countries should not resort to force in asserting its claims and instead abide by international law.
“The United States does not take a position on any territorial claim because any nation with a claim has the right to assert it but they do not have a right to pursue it through intimidation or coercion. They should be following international law, the rule of law, the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas, UNCLOS, that the foreign secretary has referred to,” Clinton said.
“There are mechanisms within it as he has just enumerated for the resolution of disputes and we stand for the rule of law and we stand for international norms and standards, which is why we support the peaceful resolution,” she added.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said that the Philippines would likely seek for a “compulsory conciliation” as a means to validate the Philippines’ territorial claim since China is not inclined to participate in proceedings of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea or the International Court of Justice.
“We will, in all likelihood, proceed to the fifth mechanism and be able to secure a validation of our claim from that particular mechanism,” del Rosario said.
Updating Mutual Defense Treaty
Clinton expressed its readiness to help the Philippines in its external defense and said that the 60 year-old Mutual Defense Treaty has to be updated. Consultations have begun between officials of both countries, with a “2+2” meeting happening between the foreign and defense secretaries of both countries in January in Washington.
“At the same time, we recognize that our long mutual defense treaty and alliance relationship with the Philippines has to be updated and brought into the 21st century. And that will require working with the Philippines to provide greater support for external defense particularly maritime domain awareness, defensive ones, maritime boundaries. And we’ve begun some intensive consultations between our two governments to determine exactly what the specifics of such an approach would be, which is why we will be continuing those consultations and in January the defense secretaries and foreign secretaries will meet in the first-ever 2+2 contacts. We do this with Japan, we do it with Korea, we do it with Australia. We’re doing it now with the Philippines in Washington,” Clinton said.
Clinton said that President Aquino has been invited by President Obama to visit Washington early next year.
“We also are looking forward to President Obama welcoming President Aquino to the White House, to the Oval Office, sometime early next year because we have a lot of work to do,” Clinton said.
“We want to be very sensitive to the requests and needs of the government of the Philippines and we want to make it clear that our military relationship, like every other aspect of our relationship, is one based on mutual respect and mutual interest and we think that the time has come for us to look at how we can update our military relationship moving into the future, knowing that there are new challenges and new opportunities for us to be working together.”
PH has highest Facebook penetration
“The United States looks to the Philippines and sees a trusted ally, a nation that shares our democratic values, the ancestral home for millions of Filipino-Americans, an important trade and development partner and, may I add, a country with one of the highest Facebook penetration rates in the world. The Filipino people, like the American people, are eager to connect to seize new opportunities to have their voice in their own country and global debates,” Clinton said.