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Bong Go optimistic of stronger PH-US relations after PRRD’s fruitful meeting with US Defense Secretary; welcomes lifting of VFA termination

July 31, 2021 - Saturday 8:07 PM by MDM

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Senator Christopher “Bong” Go expressed his optimism over the outcome of the recently concluded meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III, saying that the President was already able to openly express his sentiments during the event.

“‘Yung sa US naman po, I was there kagabi. Maganda po ang naging usapan ni US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III at ni Pangulong Duterte… mismo pong si Pangulong Duterte, marami siyang gustong ilabas na kanyang kinikimkim na kanya pong naiparating sa bansang Amerika (sa meeting) kaya maganda naman po ang naging usapan nila,” shared Go in an interview.

“Maganda ang naging outcome,” he added.

The Philippines was the final country to be visited by the U.S. Defense Secretary in a series of visits to Association of Southeast Asian Nations member-states. He paid a courtesy call to the President Thursday night.

President Duterte instructed the recall of the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement following the courtesy call in Malacanang.

“Okay naman dahil ang kanyang mga kinikimkim ay nailabas na po niya and I'm sure mas magkakaroon tayo ng mas maganda at stronger relations with the U.S. and hopefully also with the lifting of the termination po ng VFA ay mas lalong magiging maganda pa ang relasyon ng bansang Amerika at bansang Pilipinas bilang magkaibigang nasyon,” he said.

Go emphasized that the positive developments from the meeting would hopefully result to even stronger relations between the two countries. He added that at this time of global crisis, it is crucial to uphold the core strategic interests of the Philippines and to uphold its independent foreign policy of being ‘a friend to all and enemy to none’. 

Go further added that the clarifications of Secretary Austin on the equal sovereign partnership between the Philippines and US, as well as the latter’s commitment to the Mutual Defense Treaty were able to address key concerns of President Duterte. 

“Kailangan po natin magtulungan hindi lang bilang mga Pilipino, kundi pati na rin sa ating pakikipag-ugnayan sa ibang bansa,” Go said. 

Go emphasized further that as a treaty ally, the US has a special role to play. According to him, it was made clear by Secretary Austin how the US values the Philippines and intends to follow through with its commitment to make the alliance stronger. 

“Kasama sa areas of commitment ang paglaban sa pandemya. Ginagawa natin ang lahat upang makakuha ng sapat na bakuna at maproteksyunan ang buhay at interes ng bawat Pilipino asan man sila sa mundo,” he said. 

Go also mentioned that doses of Moderna vaccines are likely to arrive next Tuesday, August 3 as a donation of the US through the COVAX facility. 

“Ngayong Martes po si Pangulong Duterte mismo ang sasalubong doon sa mga bakunang mula sa COVAX na donated by the United States of America,” Go said. 

Meanwhile, Go said that Duterte values all countries that have assisted the Philippines during these challenging times due to the pandemic.

“Si Pangulong Duterte naman po binibigyan niya ng halaga ang lahat ng bansa, lalo na po ang mga nagbibigay importansya rin sa mga Pilipino,” he said.

Go clarified that as part of the Philippines’ independent foreign policy, engagements with other countries will continue so long as it is beneficial to the country’s core interests and provides partnerships that work. 

“Sa mga nagdo-donate ng mga bakuna… nung una sinalubong niya ang galing COVAX along with the ambassador ng EU, tapos andyan din ang UK ambassador. Sinalubong din po niya ang mula sa bansang Tsina. Sinalubong din po niya ang mula sa bansang Japan. At ngayon naman po itong galing COVAX na mula sa donasyon ng bansang America,” he ended.

Go shared that President Duterte expressed his gratitude during the meeting for the USA’s support to the Philippines’ COVID-19 response, especially the 3.2 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines it has earlier donated through the COVAX Facility.

“At malaking tulong din po ang bansang Amerika sa supply ng bakuna. Nabanggit po ni Ambassador Babes Romualdez ang bansang Amerika po ay maglalaan po ng mga bakuna sa susunod na taon para po sa mga bansang kulang po ang bakuna,” said Go.

The Senator also said that the U.S. is expected to donate more vaccines next year as he hopes that the Philippines will be one of those countries to receive additional donated doses.

“Maaaring mabigyan sana tayo ng prayoridad dito sa mga bakunang ito, lalo na po kung kailangan ng booster shots, dahil di pa natin alam saan ba hahantong itong COVID-19 pandemic. Hanggang kailan ba ito matatapos,” he added.

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