MANILA - US President Joe Biden has honored former Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, who died on Thursday at the age of 61.
Biden extended his "deepest condolences to the people of the Philippines," saying that the country's 15th president was a "valued friend and partner to the United States."
"President Aquino’s steadfast commitment to advancing peace, upholding the rule of law, and driving economic growth for all Filipinos, while taking bold steps to promote the rules-based international order, leaves a remarkable legacy at home and abroad that will endure for years to come," Biden said in a statement posted on the White House website.
"He will long be remembered for serving his country with integrity and selfless dedication," he said.
"I greatly valued our time working together, and I extend my heartfelt sympathies to his family and to all who will mourn his absence," said Biden who served as US President Barack Obama's vice president.
Aquino had visited the United States at least 7 times during his presidency, and had worked with then-US President Obama on economic deals and bilateral cooperation agreements.
The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which authorizes the US military's access to Philippine bases to "increase its strategic footprint in the region," was created during Aquino III's administration.
While the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) compels the US and the Philippines to come to the aid of the other in the event of an attack, the Visiting Forces Agreement and the EDCA "makes it relevant," Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier said.
"To put it more graphically, the MDT without the VFA and EDCA is like a balloon without air," he said.
"[The] VFA/EDCA cuts the response time of MDT to zero. If we're hit, the enemy is hit in the same second."
- With a report from Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News