Obama backs Philippines on sea freedom

The United States and the Philippines on Friday called for freedom of navigation in the tense South China Sea as the White House offered a robust show of support for President Benigno Aquino.

President Barack Obama welcomed Aquino to the White House in the latest high-profile gesture to put a focus on US ties to Asia, where a number of countries are embroiled in territorial conflicts with a rising China.

Addressing reporters next to Aquino in the Oval Office, Obama said the two leaders spoke about "trying to make sure that we have a strong set of international norms and rules governing maritime disputes in the region."

In a joint statement released afterward, the two leaders "underscored the importance of the principles of ensuring freedom of navigation, respect for international law and unimpeded lawful commerce."

Aquino and Obama called for diplomacy to resolve territorial disputes "without coercion or the use of force."

China claims virtually all of the South China Sea up to Southeast Asian nations' shores and tensions have soared in recent years with both the Philippines and Vietnam.

The Philippines and China recently pulled back vessels after a standoff over the Scarborough Shoal, which lies near the main Philippine island of Luzon.

Aquino's visit to the United States was closely watched in China, where some policymakers suspect -- despite official US denials -- that the United States is seeking to encircle the growing Asian power.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, toasting Aquino earlier Friday at a luncheon in his honor, credited Aquino with defusing tensions over the rock formation.

The United States and the Philippines signed agreements to step up cooperation on science and technology and to boost the number of Peace Corps volunteers in the former US colony.

But Aquino's visit was largely symbolic, with many US policymakers believing that the son of democracy heroine Corazon Aquino has revitalized an often overlooked relationship by tackling hard issues.

Aquino recently won a major battle in his campaign against corruption with the sacking of the country's top judge. Aquino has also agreed to let more US troops rotate -- but not be based -- in the Philippines despite the historical baggage.

"I've always found President Aquino to be a thoughtful and very helpful partner," Obama said.

Aquino said his meeting with Obama has "deepened and strengthened a very long relationship we have, especially as we face the challenges that are before both our countries in the current situation."

Clinton and Obama both voiced support for efforts by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to reach a code of conduct with China on managing disputes in the South China Sea, through which half of the world's trade flows.

ASEAN and China agreed in 2002 to negotiate a code of conduct. But there has been little progress, with a rising China preferring to negotiate with each country individually instead of dealing with the unified bloc.

In the statement, Obama also pledged US support for Aquino's efforts to upgrade the notoriously antiquated Philippine military and build a "minimum credible defense posture."

The United States has stepped up military aid, including last year delivering a decommissioned coast guard cutter -- which the Philippines rechristened the Gregario del Pilar and replaced a World War II-era vessel as its navy's biggest ship.

The Obama administration has focused on building relations in Asia. In the next week alone, the United States will separately welcome the foreign ministers of Cambodia, India, South Korea and Thailand.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February
    ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February

    Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) sustains its strong sales in its February performance. Toyota’s strong performance last month was due to the  high demand of the Vios, with sales of 2,012 units and of course the rest of Toyota’s line up such as the Fortuner, Innova, Wigo, Hilux, Avanza and Corolla Altis. Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus, recorded 60 units last month. …

  • No apology, but Noy seeks understanding
    No apology, but Noy seeks understanding

    There was no apology, but President Aquino yesterday expressed regret, took “full responsibility” and appealed to the nation for “deepest understanding” for the Jan. 25 Mamasapano raid in which dozens died, including 44 police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos. “To every Filipino who has felt failure or has been hurt because of the events related to this operation, it is with abiding humility that I ask for your deepest understanding,” Aquino said in a speech before the 246 new graduates of …

  • MVP on endorsement: Thanks, I’m no politician
    MVP on endorsement: Thanks, I’m no politician

    Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is grateful for Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s praise and presidential endorsement, but says he is not a politician. In an interview on the sidelines of the launch of the search for The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines 2015 Wednesday night, Pangilinan dismissed the idea of running for president in the 2016 elections. “I’m not a politician, I’m just an ordinary business person,” he added. Santiago endorsed Pangilinan as a presidential candidate …

  • No Lenten break in operations vs lawless groups – AFP
    No Lenten break in operations vs lawless groups – AFP

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is not suspending its offensive against the Abu Sayyaf, New People’s Army (NPA) and other lawless groups during the Holy Week, an official said yesterday. Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, AFP public affairs office chief, said the AFP leadership is leaving it up to area and division commanders whether to raise the alert status in preparation for the Holy Week. Those deployed in areas where there are ongoing law enforcement operations against terrorist groups …

  • Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP
    Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP

    The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to investigate a human rights lawyer’s claim of harassment, including surveillance, by several military officers. In a 22-page decision, the former Special Sixth Division of the appellate court granted the petition for writ of amparo and habeas data of Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon. The CA ordered the AFP to identify the officers behind the surveillance and file charges against them. The CA ruling said …

  • Noy vows to dismantle bata-bata system in PNP
    Noy vows to dismantle bata-bata system in PNP

    President Aquino vowed yesterday to dismantle the culture of factionalism or the bata-bata system within the Philippine National Police as he continued the search for the next PNP chief. Speaking at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) commencement exercises here, the President said the country needed solidarity among leaders and members of the police force so that the policemen would be effective protectors of Filipinos. “Our challenge to the next chief of our national police force: …

  • Envoy to expats: Retire, invest in Phl
    Envoy to expats: Retire, invest in Phl

    Retire and invest in real estate in the Philippines, especially now that the country has made it to the top 10 retirement destinations in the world. This is the message being spread by the Philippine embassy in Washington, with Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr. leading the refrain in meetings with various Filipino-American communities in the US. In his talks, Cuisia said that an affordable cost of living as well as warm climate and people are just some of the things that make the Philippines a top …

  • PNPA spotlight falls on Ampatuan grandson
    PNPA spotlight falls on Ampatuan grandson

    The stigma of being a namesake of the principal suspect in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre did not prevent Cadet First Class Andal Ampatuan III from entering and graduating from the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA). Ampatuan III, now with a rank of police inspector, is a grandson of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. The younger Ampatuan was among the 246 graduates of the PNPA “Lakandula” Class of 2015. Ampatuan III’s mother is Bai Rebecca Ampatuan, a daughter of the …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options