WASHINGTON, DC -- “We look forward to the US continued engagement with Asia. Despite budgetary constraints and the pull of other global commitments, it is here in the Asia-Pacific where America must clearly advance its interests and priorities. As Asia is becoming more prosperous, security tensions must be addressed.”
This was one of the key messages of Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. when he addressed a diverse audience on the first day of the Discover Diplomacy Weekend on Friday, 06 May, at the historic DACOR Bacon House in Washington, D.C.
In a comprehensive keynote speech, Ambassador Cuisia underscored the vital contributions of Philippines-US alliance to regional stability and how the people are the alliance’s “best asset”.
“Having witnessed first-hand how the relations have grown in the last five years, I would say the glue of the alliance has been the people and the greatest value proposition of the alliance is the ability to develop robust economic relations and the capacity to jointly address security challenges,” the envoy said.
The Ambassador gave an overview of Philippines-US relations along people-to-people, economic, and defense and security lines of collaborative efforts.
He cited the strong bond between the Filipino and American peoples as evidenced by the outpouring of US support to the Philippines in the aftermath of natural calamities. The Ambassador also outlined the goal of increasing the number of Filipino students pursuing higher education in the United States as a way to bolster socio-cultural ties.
Ambassador Cuisia reiterated the principled position of the Philippines on the South China Sea and the broad support it has received from the international community.
“It is one thing for my country to speak and act on the basis of what we perceive as being in the interest of the Philippines but when others express their opinions in support of the Philippines and their grave concern over the security landscape in the South China Sea, it speaks volumes of what is at stake,” Ambassador Cuisia asserted.
He emphasized the reinforcing relationship between economic development and security, and the shared interest of the Philippines and the US in ensuring that both are achieved.
In an open forum moderated by retired US Ambassador Richard LeBaron, Ambassador Cuisia fielded questions on the South China Sea issue and the upcoming Philippine presidential elections. He stressed the importance of a peaceful leadership transition in the Philippines and expressed confidence that the reforms undertaken by the current Administration will ensure that the country remains a reliable partner and ally of the United States.
“If there is one takeaway I would like you to have from this afternoon, it is that the interests of the US and the Philippines converge on the economic, political, and people-to-people fronts and since you all come from such diverse backgrounds, this convergence provides an abundance of opportunities to strengthen Philippines-US relations well beyond 2016,” Ambassador Cuisia concluded.
Discover Diplomacy Weekend is organized by Global Ties U.S., a nonprofit partner of the US Department of State that coordinates international exchange programs.
The President of Global Ties U.S., Ms. Jennifer Clinton, delivered remarks to officially open Discover Diplomacy Weekend.
“It is our goal that we experience a true exchange of perspectives and ideas for opportunities for ongoing collaboration on how our two worlds: the world we often refer to as Track 1 and Track II diplomacy can work more closely together,” Ms. Clinton stated. She further stated that the value of the event is “to provide an opportunity for you to share your insights on some of the tougher issues that are regularly in the news - that we often get a one-sided viewpoint of through the American media lens.” - Philippine Embassy, Washington D.C.