Kerry to tackle Haiyan in PH visit

Paterno Esmaquel II
US Secretary of State John Kerry is also expected to discuss a proposed deal to increase US troops in the Philippines

PUSHING THROUGH. Sen Loren Legarda says US Secretary of State John Kerry will push through with his visit to the Philippines after postponing his trip last October. File photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Postponed because of a storm, the trip of US Secretary of State John Kerry to the Philippines will finally push through this month, with a deadlier typhoon on his agenda.

The US also cites this typhoon, Yolanda (Haiyan), to justify a proposed deal that will boost the presence of US troops in the Philippines. Kerry is also expected to tackle this in his Philippine visit. (READ: PH, US resume bases access talks after impasse.)

US State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf confirmed the visit on Thursday, December 4 (Philippine time), after Kerry spoke with Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on the phone.

“Secretary Kerry said he looks forward to visiting the Philippines later this year to reaffirm our commitment to reconstruction and to discuss a wide range of bilateral and regional issues,” Harf said in a media briefing.

Harf refused to disclose the exact date, as well as the specific bilateral and regional issues on the agenda.

Sen Loren Legarda first announced on November 20 that Kerry will visit the Philippines this month. “Hopefully, there would be no storm,” she said. (READ: Kerry to visit PH in December.)

PH thanks US

Harf said Del Rosario thanked Kerry, during their phone conversation, for the US’ “overwhelming support” after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) that killed over 5,700 and affected over 11 million people.

“Secretary Kerry noted that it is an honor to help a good friend and that the United States will continue to stand by the Philippines during this difficult time,” Harf said.

Recently, the US also claimed Yolanda proves the need for a proposed agreement to increase their troops in the Philippines. (READ: New US envoy: PH needs us more after Haiyan.)

Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile said Yolanda is not enough to justify increased US rotational presence. (READ: Enrile: Yolanda not justification for US-PH deal.)

Kerry initially planned to visit the Philippines in December, but a tropical storm poised to hit the country forced him to cancel his trip. (READ: Kerry blames PH trip, blames storm.) – 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.