Locsin, U.S. counterpart Pompeo meet in DC

Paterno Esmaquel II
Locsin, U.S. counterpart Pompeo meet in DC
Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo tackle terrorism, the Korean Peninsula, and the South China Sea

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr in Washington DC met with his American counterpart, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, to discuss regional issues such as the dispute over the South China Sea.

The Philippine and US governments confirmed the meeting through separate statements on Friday, December 21. With Locsin was Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said Locsin and Pompeo’s meeting at the State Department on Thursday, December 20, “was a follow-up to their phone conversation last October.”

“The two officials discussed cooperation on issues of mutual concern, including counterterrorism and regional concerns such as the situation in the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea,” said the DFA. 

Locsin “also expressed Manila’s appreciation for the recent return of the Balangiga Bells.” (READ: Duterte thanks Americans for returning Balangiga Bells

Pompeo reaffirms PH-US alliance

In its own statement, the US State Department said Pompeo “reaffirmed the enduring US-Philippines alliance, including commitments under the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) of 1951.”

“The two secretaries discussed ongoing efforts to address regional issues such as the South China Sea, North Korea, and counterterrorism,” said US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino on Friday. 

“Secretary Pompeo and Secretary Locsin also explored opportunities to increase people-to-people ties between our two countries, our longstanding commitment to human rights, and our cooperation to strengthen the Philippines’ energy security,” Palladino added. 

The meeting comes as President Rodrigo Duterte’s officials continue engaging the US despite the chief executive’s anti-US rhetoric. 

In an interview with Rappler, political science professor and security expert Clarita Carlos said she does not see the Philippines pivoting away from the US. “We only have one security alliance, and that is with the United States of America,” said Carlos, referring to the MDT.

“Independent foreign policy simply means – if Trump has an America First, we also have our Philippines First. Whichever will serve our interests, we will go there,” Carlos said. – Rappler.com

Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.