On the occasion of the 245th year of American Independence, US embassy Charge d’Affaires John Law vowed to work “very hard” to restore the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and US which, he said, is very important in his nation’s ties with Manila.
The VFA is currently under suspension for another six months, with President Duterte seeking an explanation from Washington why the US allowed China to stay in Scarborough Shoal during a stand-off in 2012.
“We think the Visiting Forces Agreement is very important. We support it and we’re hopeful that we can arrive at a satisfactory arrangement,” Law told reporters. “While we will continue to work very hard to restore the VFA, we’ll continuously strengthen and reinforce the Mutual Defense Treaty and the US-Philippine alliance.”
Law claimed that despite pressing issues on the West Philippine Sea and VFA, the relationship between the Philippines and the United States remains vibrant and vital today.
The July 4 US Independence day was observed at the US Embassy in Manila simultaneous with the 75th year of Philippine-US diplomatic relations.
“I assure you; the United States is and will forever remain dedicated. Ang tunay na magkaibigan, walang iwanan.” Law told reporters.
Law said since the signing of the Treaty of Manila in 1946, the two countries have forged a security alliance that helps ensure peace and stability throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Trade and investment ties have brought prosperity and economic opportunity to both countries.
“Everything that we do together are the bonds of family and friendship that span generations and are reflected in the millions of Filipinos and Americans who call each other’s country their second home,” Law said.
He said he believes that the two countries’ alliance would continue because “it is in the hearts” of both the American and Filipino people.
The US is also hopeful that Manila and Washington can arrive at a “satisfactory” arrangement to continue the VFA, Law said.
He stressed that the US-Philippine alliance is more than merely a defense agreement, with the US having enormous faith in the future of the relations between the two countries.
“The US has an extraordinarily important relationship with the Philippines and we’re determined to do everything we can at all times to make it stronger,” he said.
Like the US-Philippines relations, diplomatic relations between Manila and United Kingdom also marked its 75th year, during which Britain’s Queen Elizabeth acknowledged the ties of friendship between UK and the Philippines as she paid tribute to the Filipino nurses working in the UK’s healthcare sector.
In her message to President Duterte in celebration of the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between UK and the Philippines, the Queen said UK is fortunate to have many nurses from the Philippines and expressed gratitude for their important role and contribution, especially in its response to Covid-19.
“Our ties of friendship and affection are as important today as 75 years ago. We are fortunate to have many nurses from the Philippines in the National Health Service,” the Queen said.
“They bring exceptional care and comfort to their patients. I wanted to express my sincerest gratitude for their work, especially in response to the coronavirus,” she said.
The UK, one of the major destinations for Filipino healthcare workers, is grateful to the Philippine government for allowing Filipino healthcare professionals who have already signed contracts to leave for the UK.
British Ambassador Daniel Pruce said the UK celebrates 75 years of strong and dynamic relations with the Philippines with a commitment to further strengthen cooperation between the two countries in the future.