PHILIPPINE Constitution Association (Philconsa) President Martin Romualdez has expressed high hopes that the Philippines’ alliance with the United States will continue to deepen and strengthen amid new challenges in the Asia-Pacific region.
Romualdez made his positive forecast of PH-US relations Tuesday night as he joined the Manila Overseas Press Club (MOPC) in hosting a send-off cocktail reception for outgoing United States (US) Ambassador Philip Goldberg in Makati.
Romualdez, a former House Independent Bloc Leader and ex-Leyte congressman, said the “warm ties that have been nurtured through the years should live, expand and further develop” for the “the strategic interests of the Filipino and American people.”
“We are hoping that the assistance will continue and the relationship strengthens for the greater interests of the people and the world. The Philippines is an ally and strategic partner of the US and we should remain committed to work on deepening our warm ties,” Romualdez said in an interview during the event hosted by MOPC President Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez and MOPC chairman Tony Lopez held at the Ballroom of The City Club, Alphaland Makati Place, Makati City.
Former President Fidel Ramos, President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s special envoy to China for talks conduct talks regarding the recent international arbitral tribunal ruling, shared the sentiment of Romualdez, adding what the country needs now is to push for “interdependent foreign policy” and not “independent foreign policy.”
“Thank you very much for putting us together to assure our friend, [Ambassador] Philip Goldberg that friendship should never change, but indeed must be multiplied with you people so that in the end according to the UN (United Nations) in the year 2030, we are just one community and one family, kaya natin ito,” Ramos told the crowd, mostly senators, businessmen, journalists and members of the diplomatic corps in his impromptu speech.
“That’s why I am saying it is not an independent foreign policy anymore that counts for the Philippines. It is an interdependent foreign policy densely intertwined by so many common interests, climate change, more export and import, a stable monetary currency and cultural exchange,” Mr. Ramos pointed out.
Mr. Ramos, who claimed that he came in the event as older brother of the Filipino country, said maintaining peace should be the global leaders’ top priority because “the world will be obliterated in 25 minutes because of these weapons of mass destruction.”
Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt-Romualdez, wife of Martin Romualdez, said the alliance of the Philippines and US was about protecting not only the interests of Filipinos and Americans, but also remaining steadfast in ensuring prosperity, peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The Asia-Pacific region is facing enormous challenges and we should address these concerns by keeping stronger our friendship based on our shared commitment to champion democracy and respect the rule of law for peace, prosperity and global stability,” said Yedda Marie Romualdez.
In an ambush interview, Goldberg agreed with Mr. Ramos that the “interdependent foreign policy” he was proposing the Philippines should adopt will be good for the stability and development of the entire world.
“I think that the Philippines should have a good relationship with its neighbors. It should have good relationship with China. It should have a good relationship with all countries. That is something we support [because] that is good for security, that is good for the United States also,” Goldberg told reporters.
During the event, the Romualdez couple and former Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez presented separate plaques of appreciation to Goldberg for his great contribution in extending help to Tacloban City, considered ground zero, and other super typhoon “Yolanda” stricken-areas.
“We can’t forget his (Goldberg) help after the super typhoon Yolanda destroyed most of our regions. It’s (plaque) our appreciative gesture we made tonight (Tuesday),” said Martin Romualdez.
“For his enormous support and for bringing aid to the Philippines which contributed in distinctive ways in improving the lives of Leytenos; giving them hope and positivism in the wake of the Typhoon Yolanda catastrophe,” said Yedda Marie Romualdez.
For his part, Alfred Romualdez, husband of Tacloban City Mayor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez, expressed the profound gratitude of Tacloban City for Goldberg’s assistance to them.
“Nagpapasalamat kami dahil iyung participation ng US government through the Ambassador, even the visit of the secretary of state was very meaningful at nakatulong sa pagbangon ng ekonomiya,” said Alfred Romualdez who also presented a separate plaque of appreciation.
“I would say malaki naman ang suportang ibinigay ng US, European Union at iba, pero nagmumukhang malaki iyan dahil sa kakulangan ng suporta ng Philippine government sa sariling bansa nila under the past leadership,” Alfred Romualdez stressed.
“Siyempre naman because much much better (now), that is why President Duterte feels that he is confident we can do without the help of other countries because he feels and I think we have a more competent leadership now than we had before,” Alfred Romualdez added.
In his speech, Goldberg thanked the Romualdezes for recognizing his contribution in providing aid and assistance and the rebuilding of Yolanda-hit areas.
“Thanks again to MOPC and to the Romualdez family of Leyte for recognizing what we did, not just the United States (US), but many countries helped together. It is equally important that we tried to help in the aftermath [of Yolanda]. How warm and hospitable the people of the Philippines, thank you,” Goldberg told the crowd.
Before the program ended, Babe Romualdez gave Goldberg a 2009 French Margaux red wine named “Chateau DuTERTRE” which is almost similar to the name of President Duterte who disliked the outgoing ambassador.
“We have a special wine for the ambassador called Chateau DuTERTRE, this is a French Margaux wine 2009 so this is really a special wine from France that we are going to give to Ambassador so that he will remember the Philippines,” Babe Romualdez said which drew laughter from a standing-room-only crowd.
“The ambassador (Goldberg) said last July 4 that all ambassadors never die nor they don’t fade away, they just come back, in this case, he will be back after five and a half years,” Babe Romualdez added that drew laughter again.
The send-off party for Goldberg who wrapped up his three-year tour in the country was attended also by Sens. Grace Poe, Franklin Drilon, Cynthia Villar and Antonio Trillanes IV, Chamber of Mines of the Philippines President Philip Romualdez and his wife Sandy, president and CEO of Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Earlier, Martin Romualdez honored Goldberg and recalled that the US Ambassador immediately rushed to Tacloban City and Palo in Leyte that were heavily hit by Yolanda.
“You (Goldberg) have shown ‘malasakit’ (compassion) to the victims during and after the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda. You have inspired us and lifted our spirits. As you can see, we have come a long way. But, we still have to work together. From the bottom of my heart, thank you very much,” said Romualdez who conveyed the heartfelt gratitude of the people of Region VIII to the US government and other donors.
“He (Goldberg) is one of the many world leaders and individuals who rescued and provide new hope to us. Remembering the rise of Yolanda-stricken areas will be incomplete without expressing our profound gratitude to him and all other donors,” Romualdez pointed out.
He explained that Goldberg was very instrumental through the US government in providing humanitarian assistance after Yolanda, particularly food, potable water, temporary shelter, and basic health care system.
“Big thanks for responding to our needs by providing immediate humanitarian needs,” said Romualdez, adding that Goldberg’s team also helped in clearing the roads to transport aid workers, distribute thousands of tons of relief goods, evacuate thousands of people affected by Yolanda.