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MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives on Wednesday, October 12, recognized United States Ambassador Philip Goldberg for his mission, which focused on providing assistance to the Philippines.
Through House Resolution 15, Goldberg was conferred the Golden Mace Award for his efforts in “further enriching the ties between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America.”
Among Goldberg’s initiatives cited in the resolution was his immediate visit to Tacloban City and Palo town in Leyte after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) swept through and damaged Eastern Visayas.
The House also lauded Goldberg for the military assistance the Philippines received under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed under his ambassadorship.
“It provided for enhanced humanitarian assistance and disaster response capabilities, aside from military modernization, which our country needs,” the resolution wrote.
Goldberg thanked the House leadership for the award.
“It is an alliance that endured, it’s particularly an honor to receive this award from the House of Representatives, because in the US the House of Representatives is called the People’s House, and if that’s the case of the Philippines, these are the representatives of the people,” he said in a quick press briefing after receiving the award.
‘US still committed to PH’
The resolution was signed by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, and Minority Floor Leader Danilo Suarez.
Alvarez and Fariñas are allies of President Rodrigo Duterte, who recently issued a chain of fiery remarks against United States. Duterte also earlier called Goldberg “bakla” (gay). (READ: Duterte’s ‘cross the Rubicon’ remark does not equate to cutting US ties)
Asked for his reaction to the President’s remarks, Goldberg said that he does not respond to this as a diplomat. He stressed that the US is still committed to a strong alliance with the Philippines.
He also said that the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) is one way that the US is carrying out the alliance, despite Duterte’s stance that he wants to end the joint military exercises. On Tuesday, however, the President refined his earlier statements and said he did not mean to cancel military alliances.
“We have the desire to continue our alliance, we have a great commitment as President Obama has said. I think our security alliance benefits the Philippines, it benefits the United States as it should be as a partnership.” Goldberg told reporters.
Goldberg said that the Philippines and US work hand-in-hand in security operations, such as doing counter-terrorism work and preventing human trafficking and enforcing the law on child pornography, among others. – Rappler.com