Philippines-US relations

When did high-level visits by US officials to the Philippines happen?

Matthew G. Yuching
When did high-level visits by US officials to the Philippines happen?

KAMALA HARRIS. US Vice President Kamala Harris visits Vandenberg Space Force Base in Lompoc, California, on April 18, 2022.

Mike Blake/Reuters

These high-level visits are often used by the US to show commitment to economic, diplomatic, and military cooperation with allies around the world

MANILA, Philippines – US Vice President Kamala Harris is set to visit the Philippines from November 20 to 22, the first visit of the highest-ranking female US official to the country since taking office in 2020.

Coming from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Thailand, Harris’ visit includes an expected courtesy visit to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte, and an open forum in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. (READ: What to expect: US Vice President Harris’ visit to PH)

Besides a congratulatory phone call by US President Joe Biden to President Marcos last May, his plans to visit the Philippines remain unknown.

Which significant officials from the US have visited the Philippines over the years?

Historical firsts

The first recorded sitting US president to visit the Philippines was Dwight Eisenhower in 1960, in a state visit with then-president Carlos Garcia.

Four US presidents visited the country before or after their terms in office: William Taft as governor-general from 1901 to 1903, Ronald Reagan as governor of California in 1969, George H.W. Bush as vice president in 1981, and Jimmy Carter after his term in 1999.

Recent presidential visits were from Bill Clinton in 1994 and 1996, George W. Bush in 2003, Barack Obama in 2014 and 2015, and Donald Trump in 2017. (TRIVIA: US presidential visits to PH)

Since Eisenhower’s administration, only former president John Kennedy did not visit the country.

Records have found Alben Barkley to be the earliest vice president to visit the Philippines. He attended a luncheon hosted by then-president Elpidio Quirino in 1951

State secretary missions

John Dulles was the first secretary of state and high-level US official to visit the country when he organized the signing of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization in 1954. He would make four more visits to the country until 1958.

Hillary Clinton’s visit to the country in 2009 marked the first public forum attended by a high-level US official. She also visited the country in 2011 for another forum. (WATCH: Hillary Clinton to the Philippines: We’re betting on you)

Michael Pompeo met with former president Rodrigo Duterte and then-foreign secretary Teodoro Locsin in 2019. He assured the administration at the time the US would help the Philippines assert its claims in the West Philippine Sea under the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).

Antony Blinken also reiterated to Marcos the US’ support for the MDT during his visit last August. Until the arrival of Harris on November 20, Blinken is the highest-level official to call on Marcos.

Second Gentleman and husband of Harris, Douglas Emhoff, earlier led the US delegation to attend Marcos’ inauguration last June. – Pola Regalario/

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