MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ top diplomat welcomed the open support of longtime ally the United States for the 2016 arbitral ruling on the South China Sea, as well as its reaffirmation of its commitment to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.
During the Special ASEAN-US Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Wednesday (Manila time), Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. stressed that the five-year-old arbitral award is binding international law.
A thread of major developments in the bilateral relations between the Philippines and the United States from January to December 2021. (Presidential photo/Joey Dalumpines and AFP/Angela Weiss)
Speaking at the Special ASEAN-US Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. welcomes Washington’s open support for the July 2016 Arbitral Award and its commitment to the Mutual Defense Treaty.
“It is binding international law and the most authoritative application of UNCLOS on the maritime entitlements of features in the South China Sea. As such, it contributes to the rules-based order in ASEAN and benefits all the countries that use the vital artery that is the South China Sea. The rest is bluster,” Locsin says.
As the Philippines and United States commemorate the 75th year of their diplomatic ties, US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Law says Washington “is and will forever remain dedicated.”
Speaking at the US Embassy’s celebration of 2021 US Independence Day, Law says he has confidence that the ties between the longtime allies will continue to prosper and thrive.
“Through wars, natural disasters, pandemics, and whatever else may come our way, the US-Philippine relationship is — as Ambassador Romualdez would like to say — Thriving at 75,” he says.
Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez sees the “light at the end of the tunnel” amid the COVID-19 pandemic with the help of the US government.
In his Independence Day message, Romualdez highlights how Washington assisted the Philippine Embassy and Consulates General as American vaccines make their way to the Philippines either directly or through the COVAX facility.
“This cooperation was strengthened due in large part to the active and compassionate Filipino communities who augmented and broadened our Government’s endeavors,” Romualdez says in a statement.
The U.S. Embassy in Manila welcomes the arrival of the first batch of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from the global COVAX facility, to which is the United States is the largest contributor.
A total of193,050 doses of U.S.-manufactured vaccine arrived yesterday, adding to the 2,030,400 doses of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine from COVAX.
The embassy’s news release notes that the U.S. is funding one in five vaccinations in the Philippines under COVAX.
“I am proud that this extraordinarily safe and effective vaccine, developed through U.S. scientific ingenuity, will protect Filipinos. As we fight the pandemic together, the United States will continue to support the Philippines’ vaccination and COVID-19 mitigation efforts,” says U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Law.
In a phone call earlier today, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and US State Secretary Antony Blinken shared concerns with the massing of Chinese maritime militia vessels in the West Philippine Sea, including Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef, US State Department Ned Price says.
The two foreign ministers also reiterate their calls on China to abide by the 2016 arbitration ruling issued pursuant to the Law of the Sea Convention.
“Secretary Blinken also reaffirmed the applicability of the 1951 U.S.-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty to the South China Sea,” Price says.
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