Heather Variava, Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim, in United States
Embassy Manila; hands over Wednesday morning a plaque of appreciation
to House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin G. Romualdez at the
U.S. embassy in honor of the establishment of the United
States-Philippines Congressional Friendship Caucus. Also in photo
are (from left) Deputy Speaker and Deputy Majority Leader Juan
Pablo “Rimpy” Bondoc of Pampanga, Deputy Majority Leader and Pampanga
Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, Deputy Minority Leader and Marikina
City Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo, Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur Rep.
Prospero “Butch” Pichay, Jr., Cagayan Rep. Samantha Louise Vargas
Alfonso, Isabela Rep. Antonio “Tonypet” Albano, and Magsasaka
party-list Argel Joseph Cabatbat.
For 75 years of excellent diplomatic, bilateral relations
HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin G. Romualdez on Wednesday morning led the House of Representatives in expressing its deep appreciation and gratitude to the United States (US) government, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the American people for the 75 years of excellent diplomatic and bilateral relations.
Speaking during the hybrid meeting for the launching of the U.S.-Philippines Congressional Friendship Caucus at the US Embassy in Manila, Romualdez welcomed the continued U.S. support, partnership, kindness, huge business investments, friendship, and assistance, including millions of coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) vaccine doses donated to the Philippines.
Romualdez explained that the U.S.-Philippine relations may be characterized by strong historical and cultural linkages and a shared commitment to democracy and human rights which have expanded and deepened through bilateral cooperation in many areas, most notably defense and security, trade and commerce, and culture and education.
“In behalf of the House of Representatives under Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the United States for all its support for the Philippines,” Romualdez said in his opening remarks during the event, stressing that the House of Representatives adopted House Resolution (HR) No. 65 expressing its sincerest appreciation and profound gratitude to the U.S. as well as the USAID for its continued assistance to the Philippines.
“It gives me great pleasure to join you this morning (Wednesday), knowing fully well the contributions that the United States has provided in strengthening the partnership with the Philippine government. Truly, I am delighted to see all of you, still hale and hearty, despite the public health crisis gripping the globe today,” Romualdez said.
Heather Variava, Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim, in U.S. Embassy Manila, handed over to Romualdez a plaque of appreciation for the House of Representatives in honor of the establishment of the U.S.-Philippines Congressional Friendship Caucus.
Romualdez also recognized the huge contribution of multinational companies from the U.S., especially in the government’s continuing efforts to reboot and rebound the Philippine economy from almost two years of devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“May the United States continue to be with us every step of the way as partner in our recovery efforts. With you as our partner in nation-building, I know we will not fail,” Romualdez said, adding that lawmakers have been exerting all efforts to ease doing business in the Philippines and make a more conducive business environment that would foster economic growth.
The US has facilitated the donation of more than 26.2 million doses of COVD-19 vaccine to the Philippines through the U.S. government partnership with COVAX.
This includes more than 8.8 million doses donated by the American people. The U.S. partnership with COVAX will provide enough vaccines to fully vaccinate 22 million Filipinos, which is 20 percent of the population.
In addition to vaccine donations, the U.S. has provided more than $39 million in COVID-19 assistance to the Philippine people. This assistance includes donations of new ventilators, ICU beds, isolation tents, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The event aimed at further strengthening the U.S. relations with the country, especially in the Legislative branch was physically attended by Variava, Benjamin Barry, Political Officer in U.S. Embassy Manila; John Groch, incoming U.S. Public Affairs Chief in U.S. Embassy Manila; USAID Philippines Office of Health Director Michelle Lang-Alli, Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero “Butch” Pichay, Jr., Deputy Majority Leader and Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, Deputy Speaker and Deputy Majority Leader Juan Pablo “Rimpy” Bondoc of Pampanga, Deputy Minority Leader and Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo, Magsasaka party-list Argel Joseph Cabatbat, Isabela Rep. Antonio “Tonypet” Albano, and Cagayan Rep. Samantha Louise Vargas Alfonso.
Those who joined via Zoom were Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, Sens. Richard Gordon and Francis Tolentino, and Reps. Amihilda Sangcopan (Anak Mindanao party-list), Florida “Rida” Robes (San Jose del Monte City), Raneo Abu (Batangas), Xavier Jesus D. Romualdo (Deputy Majority Leader from Camiguin), Alfred C. Delos Santos (Ang Probinsyano party-list), Cristal Bagatsing (Manila), Strike Revilla (Cavite), Jericho “Koko” Nograles (PBA party-list), Bong Suntay (Deputy Majority Leader from Quezon City), Rosa Marie Arenas (Deputy Speaker from Pangasinan), Evelina Escudero (Deputy Speaker from Sorsogon), Estrellita Suansing (Nueva Ecija), Francisco Benitez (Negros Occidental), Greg Gasataya (Bacolod City), and others.
An estimated more than four million Filipino Americans live in the U.S. and more than 350,000 U.S. citizens live in the Philippines. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 650,000 U.S. citizens visited the Philippines each year.
At least 350 Filipinos and Americans participate in US-sponsored exchange programs each year. The US and the Philippines have conducted exchange programs for 70 years, and there are more than 8,000 Filipino alumni of U.S. exchange programs.
Fulbright Philippines is the oldest continuously running Fulbright program worldwide and there are approximately 3,300 Filipinos currently studying at U.S. universities.
The U.S. is one of the Philippines top three trading partners and the largest single private employer in the country is a U.S. company, Security Alliance.
In 2020, there was $161.6 million in new foreign direct investment from the U.S. to the Philippines.
In 2021, the U.S. and the Philippines are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the bilateral Mutual Defense Treaty and since 2015, the U.S. has provided the Philippines more than $1 billion in military equipment where the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) was responsible for more than 300 bilateral military engagements with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) each year, including expert exchanges and major training exercises.
In 2019, the U.S. completed construction of the first major project under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief warehouse used to preposition equipment and supplies critical to the U.S. and Philippines’ ability to respond quickly and effectively to humanitarian crises in the region.